Chelsea Cargill: Captain America

Captain America


The bus ride

from Emeryville

takes place in the dark,

past warehouses

and under bridges.

Captain America is dead,

preserved in ice

since 1945,

and I am unable

to defend myself

in the alleys

and vacant

parking lots.


We speed over the bridge

to Oakland, outdoing

those that could not

crack the code in time

and who stand motionless

in front of broken-down

X-ray machines.


In the desert,

a battle is being fought

by men growing armour

in the hollows of their bones.

Worried faces look on,

but the men evaporate

harmlessly, noiselessly.






Northern Arctic Tsar Bomb A


It would come from the north

hidden in a missile

hitting coastlines

and the beluga whales

that were saved by gulags

and early explorers

heads turning ninety degrees to the side

navigating by whistles


Northern Arctic Tsar Bomb A

has been trialled on reindeer

we could look back in time

not a hair was untouched

no blubber or glass cases

the Arctic spreads south

from the White Sea

almost to the cities

where the palaces of tsars will be frozen

like a fairytale with watchmen

asleep in courtyards

and locks frozen and bears

pigtails and stuffed animal fossils


Blowholes that can take in only snow

and not even songs survive

the whales can only guide

you to the same place

where their pictures

are carved into rocks

where specimens are magnified

and the past is magnified

and they are heard

under the hulls of ships






Bela Lugosi’s Octopus


‘I never play without my cape’ – Bela Lugosi


Bela Lugosi’s octopus

was made of ink and levers

with unsticky tentacles

and able to swallow men

whole and unharmed

at the bottom of the sea


This is how

the Wizard of Oz works

with all the machines

and emeralds:

there is a robot

on the other end

of a helpline

who has no heart

and only knows about wings

and rotating propeller blades

or who doesn’t know

anything about anything


Captain Nemo’s submarine

is powered by a church organ

and desire for revenge.

The crew has to travel

in a straight line

and start as babies.

They have no history

and are jettisoned

if they can’t understand

simple astrophysics


They are looking

for the missing part

that holds everything together

speed, depth, fate

and three hearts

for each lifetime

it takes








Chelsea Cargill is based in Edinburgh and her poetry has been published in Stand, Poetry Scotland, New Writing Scotland, Write This, The Delinquent and Spilt Milk, and she has further poems due out in Sidekick Book’s Coin Opera II anthology and Far Off Places. Her creative non-fiction has been included in FuseLitSpilling Ink Review, Duality and Friction, and she has fiction in Pushing Out The Boat and the anthology Shorelines. You can see her website here, and she co-runs the Edinburgh Antisocial Writers Club.

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