For Irina, March 21-22, 2012

For where thou art, there is the world itself
— William Shakespeare






You give, honestly, gently, a sultry flower in darkness, writing surprise.
Flow, sew yourself into my life, let your search fall into me, drink this
poem, let it slow you.  I’m a mere minstrel, arcing this tune, walking
the oceans, seeking my still young rain to fissure your flow.  I switch
from fish to dream, dream back to saltwater fish, this alchemy predates
language, predates the purity of symbol; this alchemy as fresh, yet, as
my soft, willing spirit.  I eat omelettes, salads, watch for openness in
gold and silver miracles.  And in you.


Each meaning
ours to marry.  An
intent so romantic its
prayers are rosewater
on the breath.  God
mingles with us, an
actor upon us, tenderly
melding our conception
as our calendar
harmonises with

I warm myth; I
load voice until
it’s fast; I decorate
breath into ornament.
Your blouse breathes
my name, clear of words
your sea falls low with
your silken grace.
You are worth each
small thing
I offer.

Passion is a
whorl a universe
an unceasing
exquisite blindness.
We master our
dreams, enchant
our chord into
one sky, rich,
profound as life.
We flavour each

Glide into my
flight.  Arch into
my fault-lines;
flake me, wet
me.  And in your
sails, power me
divine, arrow my
seed, ancient as
the yielding wind
naming unnamed


Our daughter moves / to experience / sometimes
immoderate / always faithful / too quick a
nature sometimes / a gift for our foundations /
she is silver / gold quickness / angular / rising
a coloured equation / I don’t understand / Polish
inscribes its graphology / between midnight & noon
every time assents / an unexpected one / as you /
ultimate / as ground any parallel universe that
creaks understands brings.


faith, beloved.  let our attention excite.

let our dominions collide / knit /

move between


you love to

iron to
learn the
………how why

i yield to you
   ……….my small

………………………….of objects


the grace
t.o land

approach me, Irina,
i am in love

* * * * *

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke has this year launched The South Townsville micro poetry journal and he welcomes submissions of a 30 lines or fewer poem from any of Dr. Hurley’s readers and contributors.  If Michael could have one wish in life, he would give that wish away. michael(dot)fitzgeraldclarke(at)gmail(dot)com. 

His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Asymptotes: A Love Story

This story was originally published on June 2, 2011. The author nominated it for Snake-Oil Cure’s First Short Story Contest.

hen Mark and Julie’s wedding
rolled around, no one could remember how long they had been unhappy. While the blissful couple was being toasted and cheered, guests at the front tables whispered about the minefield between the grimacing groomsman and bored bridesmaid across the dining room.

The wedding was only the most recent in a string of disasters. That night, Sally slept on the loveseat in an elaborate origami of limbs and throw pillows, the emerald bridesmaid’s dress in a satiny pool underneath the cat. Tim rubbed his face and shuffled into the bedroom. He stubbed his toe on a box of shoes blocking the path to his side of the room. For a woman who was constantly on the verge of moving out, Sally occupied an absurd amount of space.

Tim sighed and sagged into bed. He kicked his shoes off against the closet door, leaving a black scuffmark on the white paint. His pants and shirt were tossed over the side of the bed; Sally had been wearing his jacket on the drive home; the cat was merrily rolling around the crumpled sleeves, leaving behind a trail of tabby fluff in his wake. The dry cleaners could revive the tuxedo in the morning. Tim studied the framed photos on the nightstand – the trip to Greece when Sally hid behind her favorite Hollywood-sized sunglasses; the New Year’s Eve party when she could taste the resentment in his midnight kiss. His favorite was the one he taped to the underside of his alarm clock. Sally’s 21st birthday dinner, her face lit up by a flock of candles; he swore that if he looked at the photo long enough, he could figure out what she wished for that year. In the decade since that photo was taken, he blew out his own candles wishing for a time machine to go back and make it all right.

The boxes still occupied the bedroom when Tim woke up the next morning. He had heard Sally fishing around for an outfit and squeezed his pillow around his head to block the noise. Vanilla steam seeped around the edges of the bathroom door. Sally emerged from her sugary shower and pounced on the bed, her hair dripping onto Tim’s bare shoulder. He could still catch the faintest boozy vapors in the cloud of perfume. She planted a row of tiny toothpaste kisses up his neck and along his jaw until she reached his lips, where she nibbled gently.

“Baby, wake up.” She cringed at the whiny intonation; it had sounded sexier, coyer, in her head.

Tim rolled over to face her but kept his eyes closed.

Read more of “Asymptotes: A Love Story”

Valentine’s Day Potpourri: St. Valentine’s Day

I drag him to La Vie en Rose.
talk to him about it on the phone,
you can pick your Valentine.
I am purring.
We park the car,
kids at home,
freezing night,
our breath like steam.
I clutch his arm
and we stamp across the lot
in frigid wind.
I say,
choose anything.
as we approach the door
he points to a window poster,
a young and lovely
model clad in lingerie extraordinaire
and says, miserably,
can you look like her?
Christmas Day (following year)

No gift at all.

He asks me,
what went wrong?

I wonder,
what took me so fucking long?


For years, in our store, I was astounded by how many Valentines we sold. Cards and gifts for children and friends! I can say with certainty I never received a Valentine from any of my relatives.

For a laugh one year I sent all my girlfriends risqué cards signed, “from your secret admirer”. And I always gave my own children Valentines: chocolates and cards. I helped them write Valentines for each child in their class. When they came home from school I went through their decorated paper bags and asked them about the cards they received.

If anyone knew me, they would know this, of all days, Valentine’s is the day to tell me you love me.

When we were reconciling, years ago, Mark told me our sex life would have to improve. I was excited. I could change. Iknew it – inside I was a passionate and insatiable creature. I loved to be loved!

But our sex life didn’t transform, and Mark hung onto some ideal in his head. After all those years he didn’t even know me.

Fletcher and I meanwhile are cumming online. He types words which send me, and I type words that make him stagger. We are so hot for each other my mouse almost melts.

I want to keep this passion, this shared secret, this delight and fun. Sometimes I put my head down on my desk and laugh.

This life I am living is extraordinary: looking back into my despair, looking forward into the expanse, breathing into the agitation of the present.

Excerpt from Chatterbox, by Sandy Day

Valentine’s Day Potpourri: Monsoon Terza Rima

This year, something in the smell of rain
brings to mind the nature of the light
without which you marauded that terrain,

each breath of yours an impulse of cordite,
your voice a chord that would not echo.
Though I catch myself still listening, tonight,

as though you might yet enter this tableau,
a raindrop palpitating the calm of still water.
I ache with memory blunt as an arrow.

Come without your weapons of slaughter.
The rock of my heart, igneous with pain,
softens to clay, calls for its poet, its potter.

And if it be your will to come here again,
return in deluge, submerge this floodplain.

Sharanya Manivannan

Valentine’s Day Potpourri: Winter

Our love in degrees
A chilled December affair
Falling with the years

Michael K. Gause

The Seemingly Un-ending Machines III


here birds once nested is now sterile;
we were singing madrigals
soft animal lines in the movie of a cave
we must not forget.

In the years after college
a child for each year over the picket fence
that you should call your Senator to fix
all the exits of things and those you were.

You’re in chinos mingling with
lingering purple-lit camcorders
a cell phone asks if I’m aware of the fact
the world  will end
mumbling and screeching brakes
they say in …
roughly twenty years will be it

Well aren’t we all actually quite
well you say you thought you were alone;
that guy thought he was a regal queen
a kind of ga ga go-go girl.

In the never-ending leaf blowing landscapers
I was wondering what ever became of us
you so in love with your own purposes
sitting at the Apple observing an
endless stream of endless ants on the sill
marching toward a deadly little house.

* * * * *

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 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 contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.


No one
has seen my body
without scars.

You see,
one night some men
followed me home
and they had a knife,
a sharp one.

To watch a wound heal
is to look God in the eye—
but really,
glance slyly at His face
as you grow, grow, grow.

The last tingles of life
slip and give way
to the dull hum
of what the starfish
must feel when
a ghost arm again
becomes an arm!

* * * * *

Marcella Hammer is a writer and an entrepreneur. She lives in San Francisco and enjoys mountain biking, running and good German beer. Follow her on Twitter @marhammer. Her other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Valentine’s Day Potpourri

To Dr. Hurley’s Ever-Loving Public:

Dr. Hurley reminds us that one human experience that is never, ever tedious is LOVE. In celebration of St. Valentine’s Day (February 14th, for the non-believers among you), he invites you to share Lovey-Dovey poetry (however earnest or humorous) for a day-long celebration of that exalted state of mind and heart.

Dr. Hurley, ever mindful of the benefits of structure in expressing one’s deepest emotions, invites you to submit poems following unusual, but structured, forms. He particularly invites:

To Submit:

Send (1) your poem with (2) your name as it should appear (3) the person to whom your poem is dedicated (if any) and (4) the form you have chosen to follow to

snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com

no later than February 13th!

As ever, Dr. Hurley thanks you for your assistance in his mission to allay tedium!

He sends his best wishes, and on this rather amorous occasion, love and kisses,

The Editors

on behalf of Dr. Seamus Hurley

The Day Love Reaches Across the Path

t starts sim­ply, in sep­a­rate places. The seed takes root.  It winds through the soil search­ing for mois­ture. The trunk sprouts soft and vul­ner­a­ble, then its hard case stiff­ens as the cold wind, bit­ing rain, steamy sun buf­fet it. The tree grows.

Across the path, another tree grows too. Both trees spread their boughs wide, present a bril­liant canopy, stretch in lan­guid ele­gance as the years pass.

The first encounter is ten­ta­tive, mis­taken. One bough brushes against the other in a sud­den wind. The next encounter is a pause, as the thrust of one bough embraces the push of the other.  Fric­tion soft­ens the bark where their boughs cross.

Who knows which tree bends first, or why? That’s the mys­tery of Love, the silent moment of giv­ing. First one bough bends, and then the other, and as the sea­sons pass, another bough reaches out, entwines, and the two grand trees are knit together in an embrace.

Look closely. The boughs have melted together. Sap flows from one tree to the other in a con­stant trans­fu­sion. They are one crea­ture. What hurts one hurts the other. What nour­ishes one nour­ishes the other.

he first time I met Love I almost missed it. What I had thought was Love had taken me to the wrong places, left me with the wrong peo­ple, made me try too hard, say too much, wait in frus­trated silence for the words “I love you” to recover their meaning.

When I met T., I knew that I had made a friend. I knew that I wanted to talk to her when­ever I could. I would hang up the phone and won­der why she was will­ing to let me go on and on. We laughed and gig­gled. I rooted for her to get every­thing that she wanted.  We bick­ered. The world was crisp when she was around.

Then one com­pli­cated Feb­ru­ary day she looked at me and said, “I love you.”

And then I real­ized what love was. I can’t imag­ine being alive and not feel­ing this.

Her bough had reached out and touched mine. She had bent her­self around me. The feel­ing was elec­tric. It has never left.

* * * * *

JW Rogers lives in New York with his wife, three children, three dogs and four manual typewriters. His other contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

In Her Place


etting ready to go into town has become almost a ritual for me. I’m filled with excitement, anxiousness, a buzzing energy that sometimes drives me crazy when trying to decide what to wear and how to do my hair. Mother used to laugh at me, ridiculing me being in love. She doesn’t anymore; she just stares sullenly at her crosswords and magazines, paying little attention to my exhilaration. She’s gotten bored with me going out regularly. She doesn’t understand how important this is to me, how it stirs a vibrating passion in me so that when I return home I’m like a box full of bitter chocolates, a bottle filled with spirits – intoxicating and pungent. Sometimes, I think I’m like Pandora’s Box with hope cowering in one of the dark corners when everything else is gone.

It’s chilly out today and I won’t be able to show my chic new top under the coat. That annoys me, but I substitute for it by wearing a skirt that accentuates my lovely calves and full hips. I’ll wear high heels although it’s a pain walking down the steep road from our house at the top of the hill, but he’s worth it.

I don’t overdo it with make-up, he doesn’t like it. I’ve always thought that said a lot about him. It shows he’s an honest, open man; he doesn’t like pretending and I tend to agree with him. Why cover yourself up with a fake façade? It feels like cheating and it makes no sense if you really want to win a man. I mean, what will you do when you wake up next to him with your face wrinkled from the pillow and last night’s mascara smeared across your cheeks?

I remember our first date that somehow happened without any real planning. One Friday after school, he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. Until then, I’d been admiring him from afar, dreaming about us being together when I couldn’t sleep at night. I craved his touches and kisses so much I could almost imagine them real. I’d never before felt so strongly about anyone else. So I said yes and he took hold of my hand and walked me from school down to the river. There we sat on the pebbles and talked about things that I forgot just seconds later because all I could concentrate on was the incredibility of him sitting next to me, talking to me, staring in my eyes, and then taking hold of my hand timidly.

“Mom, I’m going out,” I yell from the hallway. She doesn’t respond from where she’s sitting at the kitchen table, and I can imagine her face scrunching up with annoyance and concern. She’s so negative about everything. I wish she didn’t take life so seriously, I’m afraid it’ll kill her. She’s already lost all that happiness I used to notice in her features and gestures. She’s become negative towards me; it’s like she’s disappointed in me just because I’ve found love. That doesn’t make sense, I know. I don’t understand why she can’t be happy for me, and it hurts. She keeps saying she only wants what’s best for me, but if that were true, she wouldn’t be forbidding me my love. I suspect she just can’t understand what I feel and how deeply I feel it. Maybe she’s never experienced such wild and irresistible feelings. Father passed away when I was five. I don’t remember ever hearing them fight, but honestly, I don’t remember anything much about their marriage. Mom has never remarried and sometimes I think she is just so terribly lonely that she wants to keep me to herself to keep her company for all eternity.


ust the thought of seeing him is like a caress on my feverish skin. It feels like my flesh is tuning itself up for him. All I can think about are his long fingers warming my body, slipping under my pullover, preparing my skin for his lips. I want to see his grey eyes go dark with desire, his joking attitude being replaced with earnestness, with respect for our mutual need. The thought of what I can do to him by simply being me sends a wave of heat to my cheeks.

I feel the blush as it comes into contact with the nippy air. The wind is rising and the sky is dimming, but I ignore it all. Nothing can sway my determination. Rain, sleet or storms haven’t stopped me in the past when I was on my way to see him. A bit of chill and wind won’t stop me now.

I realize I’m speeding up without even knowing it. I smile at my own impatience and a woman with a child who passes me looks at me for a second time when she notices my mysterious grin. She probably thinks I’m bonkers. Or perhaps she recognizes the symptoms of a woman madly in love. This thought makes me smile wider.

I pull the coat more tightly around me and the clicking of my heels on the pavement speeds up yet again as I try to stay warm. I pass the first houses on the periphery of the town and it feels like the town is raising its arms around me, protecting me against the wind with its concrete embrace. I’m nearly there and I can feel the thudding of my heart; the hands clasping my purse begin to tremble. I feel the excitement like a sip of strong liquor, warming up my insides, messing with my senses, confusing my emotions with reality. Anxiety comes riding on the second wave, quenching the excitement a bit, but only for a second. For as I picture his face, the lips twisted in a teasing smile and his arms around my shoulders, nothing can douse the surge of love in my chest.

I’m past the church now and the park is just ten paces away. I slow down and then stop by the hedgerow. The park is deserted at this hour, but in five minutes – six and twenty seconds, to be exact – it’ll be crawling with secretaries, architects, bank tellers and administrators on their lunch breaks. I always come early so I can find a nice spot to hide. Usually, I step behind the cluster of trees opposite from the main entrance of the church.

The first group of people emerges from the south-eastern entrance. They’re from the bank; I recognize them by now. Two women and three men. They always sit on the same bench, always in the same order – two men on the outside, then the two women, the third man in the middle. It amuses me how they rotate the middle position. It is only fair they all get equal amount of the female closeness. A young girl follows them, probably a student ditching lessons or using her break to study in the park rather than in a classroom. She takes a notebook out of her bag and then throws the bag on the grass and sits on it.

When a boy joins her a few minutes later they distract me enough with their passionate kissing that I nearly miss my love’s entrance. As always, he comes across the street from his office, but this time I catch him when he’s already in the park. I missed his concentrated look when crossing the busy street, I didn’t see him saunter down the footpath and over to ‘his’ bench. But I see him unwrap his sandwich now, although he doesn’t start eating yet, he’s waiting for her to come. And punctual as always, I can sense her silhouette approaching from the other direction. I look at her and notice her focused expression, she’s typing something on her mobile phone and holding a brown paper bag in her other hand. Her steps are brisk and sure and unaware of me watching her as she passes the trees that are hiding me from the bench. She looks up, sees him waiting and her focus shifts, her expression lightens up. When she pockets the phone, her wedding band glints in the cloudy light. She quickens her steps.

I feel my heart thudding, my cheeks are warm but despite the heat wave that splashes over me my eyes start to sting from the wind. I huddle deeper into my coat. I force myself to watch them greet each other with an affectionate peck on the lips; their admiration and love are still fresh even after years of marriage. I hear her laugh loudly; his smile is silent but radiant. They sit side by side, thighs touching, her hands fuss over his napkin and sandwich, he opens her soda and hands it to her.

I’m amazed that they manage to eat at all seeing how much they always have to say to each other. I find it ridiculous; they haven’t seen each for all of three or four hours since the morning. Still, they act like lovers united at long last. I wonder whether he’d greet me like that, too, after more than a decade. Would he have anything to say to me or would the awkwardness of our break-up still hang in the air between us? Would he be shocked into silence? Amused or maybe happy to see me? I wouldn’t have much to say other than how much I still love him and how I want him back. How I envy him his family and happiness and how it isn’t fair that I don’t get to have it. I want to be the mother of his two sons; I want to meet him for lunch in the park every day. But I will forever only watch and wish it were me in her place. I will only ever watch him from behind these trees where the grass doesn’t grow anymore because I stomp on it everyday.