Sick Bay | Gareth Culshaw

(Based on the short story, Gusev, by Anton Chekhov)

Gusev lies in the sick bay. The ship breaks up
waves that are in search of beaches. The iron
groans from squeezing between currents.

Illnesses feed off his body then wait to jump
into another. His eyes scratch away the morning
as he wakes. He tries to yawn but his jaw

is a rusty hinge on a cemetery gate.
The boat goes up and down kneading the sea.
Gusev thinks of home. His family and friends talk,

he replies with unhinged words. Slobber slugs
down the side of his mouth. The ship calms down
happy at last to be on the sea. A porthole is open

allows a breeze to escape the outside. The heat crushes
the skin of the ill. Gusev grabs his knees, so they
don’t spring his body into the sea. Gusev asks

a soldier to take him up top deck. They look into nothing.
The waves try to outdo each other, manure and hay fills
Gusev’s nostrils.

‘There’s nothing to be frightened of. It’s just scary,
like being stuck in a dark forest.’ says Gusev.

Three days later Gusev dies. They sew him up
in sailcloth, fill it with iron and place him on a plank.
The priest speaks then the board is tilted.


Gareth lives in Wales. His first collection, The Miner is available from Futurecycle. His second is due in 2020. His main critics are his dogs, Jasper & Lana who prefer sticks to poems.

He can be found on Twitter at @CulshawPoetry and his website, gculshaw.co.uk

Fy Duw, A David Jones Pastiche | Gareth Culshaw

I said Oh! where is the song?
I looked side to side.
(He’s teased me in the past
with his shadows in sunlight.)
I knocked the door for his answer.
I have knocked since childhood
waiting to be announced.
I have walked my feet over the paltry tarmac.
I have travelled along the dead leaves
ancestry beliefs from book to song.
I have blinded my brain
searching the sky and sun.
I have sensed His bruises
in wood and stone.
I have glanced at technology.
I have listened to words
without bigotry.
I have kept my breath
when in the unknown.
I can walk past Him
when my head is in the next century.

I have gazed at the sky to see the birds in case I might
hear the voices of the earth, in case I might believe that
God is in their throats. I have sung to the oak tree, be my
father and for the grassy fields I thought I sensed some
murmurings of His creature, but Fy Duw, my ears heard the silence
of mining and the horrifying coin a coliseum-glue….O Fy Duw.


Gareth lives in Wales. His first collection, The Miner is available from Futurecycle. His second is due in 2020. His main critics are his dogs, Jasper & Lana who prefer sticks to poems.

He can be found on Twitter at @CulshawPoetry and his website, gculshaw.co.uk