The installer had me take off my shirt while he unpacked his toolkit. “You got the two year contract on this? You sure?” he asked.

I nodded. The gyros in the walls whispered to life to keep the room level as the city tilted, probably climbing a dune, and the sun burst through the window, making the points and edges of the installer’s tools glint and glitter. I hoped the stabilization was as good as the landlord promised.

We were in my new kitchen, at the table. I tried to sit still while he started in on my abdomen. My new apartment, like living in a cloud, all polished white plastic and sourceless white glow, all spheres and curves, littered here and there the chromed evidence of my inhabitance. New possessions for my new home and my new life, different from my old life. The apartment let a picture of Leil slip up out of the floor and scud over the ridges of the entertainment center, settling into a swirl in the ceiling.

“Girlfriend?” asked the installer.

“Was,” I said.

“Sorry,” he said, “Still, plenty of cars in the sky.”

A solar array crawled over my window, casting the room in shadow, and the sourceless white glow intensified to compensate. The picture of Leil, the one from the arboretum where she plucks a rose and it grows back, and she smiles to see the petals unfolding, and she plucks it again and again until she has a dozen from the same stem, and then she showers the roses down on me, on the lens, that picture, that picture slid down from the ceiling and settled on the back of the chair opposite me.

“What do you do?” asked the installer, trying to change the subject.

“You know those Sony aubler ads?”

He raised his eyebrows, “The ones that smell like rain and ozone? For the aublers with the…what’s it called?”

“SupraBright Screen,” I said. “I wrote those.”

“Good job,” he said, and went back to work on my abdomen, “Congratulations.”

Not good enough, if he couldn’t remember the SupraBright screen.

The solar array crawled off the window, feeling its way along the outside of the building, following the afternoon sun, confused by the scattered refractions from all the polished buildings that sprouted from the city’s chassis and cars that flung themselves through the sky. There weren’t many of those old arrays left. How long would this one last before it too chased a shard of light off a rooftop?

Leil’s picture called up reinforcements, all the moments of her I’d captured, and set them to dancing around the window. The installer couldn’t fail to see what was on my mind.

“What’s that mean?” he asked, “That you wrote it? Did you come up with the smell?”

“Just the action and the dialogue.”

“Oh,” he said. “Still, good job.”

Everybody loved the smell. I could have taken credit for it, I gave Billin in Scent the idea. When I met Leil she had that fake malfunction in her oculums that occasionally shorted and smelled of ozone. It was very ahead of the curve. The way her gaze actually sparked when she looked at me. And rain, that was in her skin or in her sweat or something. I never asked, I just inhaled.

“This’ll really impress your friends,” said the installer, tinkering with my chest.

I said, “I’m not going to let anyone see it.”

He sat back. “Two year contract and you’re going to hide it?”

“Yeah,” I said.

Leaning forward again, he said, “If I could afford two years of this I’d show it off.”

The room lurched, probably one of the city’s legs slipping on the desert sand, a million ton foot bogging down.

“Great,” said the installer, “take maintenance a day to dig that out, and my building’s almost out of water. Probably don’t have that problem in this neighborhood.”

All the Leils spread out, each occupying a surface. Leil swimming, Leil diving and surfacing. Leil pulling the sheets over her mussed hair. Leil checking her face in a mirror. She always asked why I never took serious pictures, why I recorded the moments she wasn’t ready, the times she wasn’t posing. I thought it was obvious.

The solar array crawled back over my window, always after that shifting light.

“I caught my kid riding one of those,” said the installer. “Him and his friends were trying to race them. Idiots.”

“No,” I said, it was perfect. It was new. Leil dropped off the walls and the apartment called up pictures of teenagers riding solar arrays, grainy, shot through cheap lenses, spattered with compression artifacts. Low bandwidth uploads from kids’ first rigs.

That was our target market, right there, clinging to scuttling machines hundreds of feet up the sides of buildings, laughing with adrenaline, covering the beady light sensors to steer. I could see the ad: boys using their shadows to try and race solar arrays over the surface of some solidly middle-class piece of construction under a sepia sun, a smell like hot dust that turns to the tang of steel being machined when a sleek girl blows past the boys on an array that she’s riding like she’s sand-surfing, standing at a ninety degree angle to the building, the aubler in her hand, blast of clean, white light from the SupraBright screen making her array sprint. She looks over her shoulder at them and winks, and you just know she’s recording their stunned faces.

Maybe some tagline like, “SupraBright. SupraFast. SupraNow.”

“All done!” said the installer, taking a step back. “What do you think?”

I stood up, the kids riding arrays vanished and the wall in front of me flashed mirror-silver so I could see my reflection.

The installer had put a perfect hole in my middle. Right through me. Just the thing I’d signed and paid for. A two year contract. And in the mirror I could see Leil’s pictures on the wall behind me, floating back up from the floor, winking at me through the hole where my heart and my gut used to live. The city shuddered, trying to lift its foot and continue its search for some fleeting oasis to drink dry, to ease our endless thirst.

* * * * *

Will Kaufman’s work will be appearing in [PANK], Unstuck, and Litro Lab, and has in the past appeared in 3:AM, Metazen, Sundog Lit, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. He also coauthored the chapbook “UFOs and Their Spiritual Mission”, published by Social Malpractice Press. He has an MA in Creative Writing from UC Davis and an MFA from the University of Utah. You can find him online at

This is his first contribution to Snake-Oil Cure.

Always Crashing in the Same Car

August 27th, 10.03am

Tires were screeching around the coastal roads of Sarnia, roads that from above formed a right-angled triangle floating in the deep azure of the English Channel. Several passengers peered from the windows of an airplane descending into the island’s tiny airport and saw the husk of a car, its exhaust puffing like an aged smoker, make a sharp right turn below them before disappearing behind a swathe of trees. The old Volkswagen now heading along the longest straight on the island – the hypotenuse of the triangle – was slowly gathering speed.

The coast and its cresting waves blurred into a wash of blue as John’s foot pressed down on the accelerator. Finally, at sixty miles per hour – far too fast for the narrow street ahead of him – his hand twitched and the car squealed left across the pavement and through a wooden barrier that separated him from the water and the rocks below.

In John’s mind, he flew gloriously off the edge of the cliff, plastic, metal and flesh caught in the air simultaneously, sailing away from the ground. In reality, the VW thumped with a scrap-metal crash into a ditch, and his head thudded with a dull snap against the driver-side window.

August 10th, 12.21pm

The geometry of shadows gathered around Gillian’s feet was on the move. High above her, the noon sun cast a strange kaleidoscope of lines on the sand, and John watched as she reached the water and stepped, tentatively at first, into the English Channel. Even during the summers, the salty, thick waves were cold to the touch, and he imagined the goose bumps now peppering her arms.

She hopped forward, her body tensing into right angles. The bathing suit still fitted snugly, the same one she’d taken on their honeymoon. John smiled and leaned back onto the sand as she disappeared into the water.

Gillian waded in and, in a moment of quotidian bravura, finally dipped her shoulders under the water’s surface. The salty sting of the sea slipped past her skin as she swam further out, and eventually her body temperature equalized and she was comfortable. The goose bumps had disappeared.

She stopped and turned over onto her back, her hair, tied in a loose bun, weighing her down like an anchor. The sky wasn’t cloudless – Sarnian skies rarely were – but it was bright, with sheer spots of sunlight pounding at the sand. Leaning her head forward, she could still see John’s feet, his white chest, and his eyes, closed to the sky above them.

“Why don’t you fuck off back to England?” The voice woke John, clear above the sound of the sea brushing the sand. He propped himself up on his elbows and watched a teenage girl in ankle-high Converse shoes and a miniskirt trying her hardest to stomp across the sand and away from a boy wearing nothing but swimming trunks and a dumbfounded expression.

“What was that all about?” he asked. Gillian had returned and the goose bumps on her legs had mutated into tiny grains of sand.

“Dunno.” She lay on the towel next to him. “Not much to do on a Sunday if you’re a teenager.”

August 21st, 5.34pm

John left Town and drove toward home. The movements were familiar, the turns of the road second nature. The rocks, grass, sand, and glass houses moved past him barely noticed. It never took more than fifteen minutes to drive anywhere on the island.

Along the coastal road, he sped up and passed Fort Grey, a coastline fortification that, like all the others, stood defunct at the water’s edge. Concrete and cylindrical, atop it a flagpole flapped a Sarnian flag wildly in the breeze. Retrieving his phone from the passenger seat, he dialed home. No answer. He tried Gillan’s mobile, leaving it to ring several times before hanging up at the sound of her voicemail message.

Gillian had settled into the back of the Duke of Normandy pub. She let her phone buzz futilely against the table. A glass of beer stood waiting for her just beyond it, and she took a hearty swig. Before they were married, she only ordered wine or, in an emergency, gin and tonic. But now, beer had become a staple – cheaper and longer-lasting – and the low wooden beams and dark corners of the Duke of Normandy had become welcoming in a way that their home was not. The cold glass sides and summer skylights that John had installed two years ago were impersonal and cold to the touch.

Her phone chirped and she picked it up. A text message read: Where are you? See you at home!          John parked and went in through the conservatory door. The sun was low enough to cut diagonally across the room, leaving a slice of orange light leading from the floor up to the interior door that led to the kitchen.

Gillian arrived half an hour later, the sun setting through the trees, and the sound of waves bristling against the distant coast. Her old Volkswagen fit neatly between the garage and John’s slovenly parked Audi. John was asleep on the couch, today’s copy of the Sarnia Herald folded open and balanced on his chest.

August 27th, 7.17am

The sun climbed higher that morning as Gillian rose. John lay still, asleep between the waves of their bedsheets.

She left the note in the kitchen beneath a stone figurine that they had received as a wedding gift. The note was short, could be read as brusque, but she didn’t want to run to more than half a page.

Snores percolated like coffee as she slipped her maroon travel bag out of its usual place in their walk-in closet and grabbed handfuls of clothes from the dresser drawer. Stuffing socks, underwear, then t-shirts and pants into the bag, she paused for a moment. If she had been expecting one last roll, a twist of limbs that signaled a disturbance in John’s sleep, she would have been disappointed.

August 27th, 10.12am

Tires were screeching around the coastal roads of Sarnia, roads that were just the ragged edge to the Sarnian soil. Gillian was high above. From this distance, the island always seemed so idyllic, a misty antique, something to be preserved for the future. She lay her head against the airplane window and she sensed a gust of air colliding in a spiral with the plane’s propellers. The island shrank away from her, a patchwork of fields interrupted by the reflections of greenhouse roofs.

The airplane tilted left and into the clouds. Gillian stared out, glimpsing between the white wisps a congregation of cars and people on a coastal road, blue lights and more piercing red ones flashing at the scene of some accident or crime. Who said nothing ever happened in Sarnia? she said to herself.

Her stomach lurched, the clouds enveloped the airplane, and suddenly the island disappeared.

* * * * *

DLR likes writing for fun, and writing for money. He likes his dogs to have beards, and his bourbon to have poise. He is editor and cofounder of Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and his other Snake-Oil can be found here.

A Longing In Everything

B.T. Joythere is a longing

in everything

a longing in the stones

and a longing in the trees


within the apple’s sweetened pith:

there is a brownish clove of apple-seed

that, undisturbedly, sleeps

with its murmur of branches hissing

in the breezes of centuries to come

and we discern

early-morning hunger in this line of crows;

in the shuffle of wings; the hop and stagger

of talons on the cold station walls

driving in today

and round bales of hay had been spread

out beneath the roundness of the frost moon

a dark hawk circuited in the deadly white

of sea-harr drifting up from shore

and I thought I saw

pagodas soar in the crimson rent of daybreak:

their blue and purple roof-tiles curling

like aching fingers on the sky’s flushed palm

still the wings are whirling

and without a call the birds of prey

swoop and dive determinedly

through siftings of celestial light

moonlight and sunlight

light flush on water and crisp on hay

and all this without saying

what secret engine makes

each mechanism run

what makes the shadows

of blackbirds fleet

from the garret’s darkness?

what makes the crane

explore the water’s brink?

and I think if only

one thing from nature spoke

I would understand at once

what longs

and what can satisfy

what seeker’s hand reaches

for the moon; or for the sun

what light it is that cools;

and what light burns

like trees

that cover travellers

in a cloak of tender shade

like stones

that sing through the open air

in a crackle of ecstatic prayer

* * * * *

B.T. Joy is a Glaswegian poet currently living in Bridge of Weir; where he teaches High School English. He received a First Class Honours degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies in 2009 at London Metropolitan University and has, since then, had poetry published in Australian, Irish, American, British, Japanese and Hongkongese journals. He is also the author of two volumes of haiku In The Arms Of The Wind and The Reeds That Tilt The Sky, published in 2010 and 2011 respectively. His haiga have appeared with the World Haiku Association, Haiga Online and Daily Haiga. In 2012 he was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Education by the University of Strathclyde as part of the last cohort to undergo teacher education at Jordanhill College.

Guest edited by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Spirit Boats

Anna JacobsonLong grass whispers 
around her ankles as she walks
towards the lake. Fish flick-knife

inky water. In her hands she clasps
a folded paper boat. She lights
a tea candle and the flame dances.
She casts her boat into the water
and the boat glides as though a spirit.

On the other side a boy launches
his boat across the water. The vessels touch
midway as though kissing. She waits
for a message, watches as the candle tips,
sets the boat alight. Fire is suspended
on the surface. The flame is eaten
by water and the only lights reflected
are stars. The scent of longing and ash
heavy in the air.

Spirit Boats

My poem ‘Spirit Boats’ resonates with my photograph ‘Journey in a Paua Shell Boat’ from my FantasyScape series. Cast adrift on an inky lake, both poem and photograph are inspired by fantasy and storytelling, using the minimalism of the theatrical darkened stage. Through these landscapes, the viewer can explore and lose themselves in meditative worlds. As there are layers of meaning in the poem, layers of imagery of separate elements are also built into the photograph. The long exposure was lit by torchlight, to construct the environment.

* * * * *

Anna Jacobson is a Brisbane based poet and photographic artist. She graduated from the Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Photography with Honours. She loves creating soundscapes with poetry and video art and in 2009 she won the Queensland Poetry Festival Filmmaker Award, which was screened at the Judith Wright Centre. She is currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at the Queensland University of Technology. Her poetry was published online at Graham Nunn’s blog ‘Another Lost Shark’. Anna’s artist website is

This is her first contribution to Snake-Oil Cure.

Guest edited by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke


Luke Bestfor Natalie

Over the ridge,
down through the ravine
where the sky cannot see

and the goat tracks
hide their serrations,
there is a great

yawn of pasture.
I went there today
far from this monument.

I peeled myself
from this stiff bed
threw off sheets

fed them to flame
felt the fizz of motion
and ran and ran and ran.

* * * * *

An emerging poet from Toowoomba, Luke Best has held numerous atypical jobs such as Pest Controller and Postie and aspires towards a career as a Fireman. His poetry stems from an upbringing in his beloved Darling Downs and is based on regional idiosyncrasies found therein. A child of the 80s, he shares his birth year with influences like Sarah Holland-Batt and LK Holt. He was highly commended in the 2010 Thomas Shapcott prize.

This is his first contribution to Snake-Oil Cure

Guest-edited by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

King Kong Goes to Cambridge

rob mclennanfor William Hawkins,


rob mclennan

Washed ashore in statehood, long escaped from Rotterdam,

what might he know of low-hung rooftops, turret-stone, a bridge
held down eight centuries

of charter. Neither New York, nor his Island hideaway,

beyond his reach, a bray of school-bells,
silent throng of students cross the football fields.

Castle Hill, no trace of Viking rule. Once more, into the breach.

King Kong, inclined to lechery, a lack of forethought,
keeps close to ground, displaying Newton’s accidents of gravity.

A million miles between: a sense of fair play, given
existential due. If he could, ignite the football fields. He chews

the stupid mint.

* * * * *

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2011, and his most recent titles are the poetry collections Songs for little sleep, (Obvious Epiphanies, 2012), grief notes: (BlazeVOX [books], 2012), A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks, 2011), Glengarry (Talonbooks, 2011) and kate street (Moira, 2011), and a second novel, missing persons (2009). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Jennifer Mulligan), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

This is his first contribution to Snake-Oil Cure.

Guest-edited by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Exposure № 114: Gatos

Juliana M. M. Soares brings us this classic family portrait.

* * * * *

Juliana M. M. Soares is a Brazilian photographer, illustrator, art director and enthusiastic in many-many artistic areas. Dreams, old things and walk in the woods are some of her inspirations, coupled with her passion for analog cameras. Her submissions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Sitting Shiva in a Hotel Lobby

For a year this image has haunted me.
Over and over I hear on the gramophone
Cohen put in my ear
“Feature this:
On a crowded elevator
a strange woman in a baseball cap
unbuttons your fly.”
That image is on the ceiling every night
as I sit shiva in the lobby
of this small hotel,
a hookah, like a tired cobra,
coiled at my feet,
a shamrock in my buttonhole
dead from the last parade.
Night after night,
I think about this strange woman
as each hour I watch
the doors of the elevator
part and give birth.
I observe each new guest carefully,
hoping the woman in the baseball cap
will tire of the rain and ride up
in the elevator and register.
I want her to sit in the lobby
and talk with us.
We who are guests here forever
have eons to hear
what she has to say.
We have paid our rent in advance.
We can afford to sit here and see.

* * * * *

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at His submissions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Exposure № 112: Night Works

A long wait

Closed (from a long time)

Only diesel

Photographer Davide’s first project, “Night Works”, brings him to places from his daily life, revisiting them at night, when “the absence of people and the inactivity of the structures let the imagination go away or even stay, transforming what seems familiar and obvious.”

* * * * *

Davide, aka Thinredline, is 43 years old and lives in Mantua, Italy. He is not a professional photographer. His submissions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Blowing In the Wind III

This is a different day, not so easy as before
wind up high
dreams wafting about;

someone measures a tree’s girth
or watches a bird always at home
in its travels
wild, untouched;

people are strolling around the world
nearly spring;
in Iraq at a bistro
he says I don’t mind the bombs-
Iraq is so beautiful and things will get better;
it’s too late for any more positives
on this over-extended Earth-
in a science fiction anesthesia.

East Germany before that war…
what was the gist of it…no protests permitted?
Clouds roll over properties for sale.

Just back from China
our tired neighbor says “this is my home… sometimes”
(when the corporation decides..

There are no birds on the sprayed lawns
and people are homeless from Climate Change storms…
too late to turn back.

From the back porch steps
he notes “the crocuses are in bloom
and that’s a good thing.”

* * * * *

Joan Payne Kincaid has published a collection of work entitled Greatest Hits with Pudding House Publications. She has also published a book with Wayne Hogan entitled The Umbrella Poems in which we both contributed drawings of some of our poems.  She has also published a collection of haiku entitled Snapshoots on the web at <>. Her work has been published in Gargoyle,Hawaii Review, Limestone Poetry Review, Licking River Review, Iodine, Hampden,Sydney Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Santa Clara Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, South Central Review, The South Carolina Review,  Cross Currents, Georgetown Review, Edgz, 88,  Oyez, Modern Haiku, Iconoclast, Lynx Eye, Yalobusha Review, Mother Earth Journal, Tule Review, The Quarterly, Cairn, among others.

Her other submissions can be seen here.