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A Flash of Lightning
Jackie Kabir


I want to be one of the watchmen
and for my face to change
every time I witness a crime
or a story unfolding
I will unearth plans
to overthrow the world order
while not really being sure
if I want to overthrow the world order
and whether I am a hero or villain
may never be revealed
behind the inkblots on my mask.

I travel around on a scooter
to places I’ve never been before
and when I get there
I turn into a puff of smoke.
I’m not sure
whether I solve crimes
or just evade speeding fines
but the sense of lawlessness
is all around,
clogged up rivers,
babies hurtling downhill
in shopping trolleys,
mystery handprints
on the pavement.
This is the film
they never made
about me.

I walk the streets
with my eyes closed
trying not to
fade to nothing
and playing my
theme tune music.

The Fate of Superheroes

This is what became
of the superheroes:
a double murder
with graffiti
in a hotel room,
the comedian
opening fire on crowds,
laughing at such
a retro lycra suit.

A mystery man
looks the other way,
claiming to be
a dead archenemy
but not inhaling
from the cigarette at
the corner of his mouth.

They were to be unmasked
as naked army rejects
and kept in miniaturised form
to leap tiny buildings
and end the world
in a puff of smoke.

Is your true nature
accepted or disbelieved
by the general public?

What use is the ability to absorb
power from atomic bombs
if no-one is watching?

Miss Jupiter
flew the world
on the side of a plane
and retired on a range
of merchandise.
She can still stop
her own fall
but that’s not the same
as flying


You can’t escape
The boat off the island is tied up

in plain view but off a precipice
and only you know how to get there

They left clues while you disappeared
A rock with the chalk outline of a man

at the bottom of a fall
where falling is like treading water

and you see for the first time
the earth’s shape.

First there was gravity,
then planets,
then creatures with teeth and claws,
then you,
then a master race and oblivion.

You are circled by asteroids,
casualties of the solar system
that want to be left to spiral into space
but are tied to you and to future time.

You can go north where is north
or west maybe they won’t find you

A light through a crack in the rock

Future Time

The sky only looked like this once before
when half of everything was wiped out

A dying star whose lethal ray
might hit the earth

It would be the brightest thing ever

Our special powers would be wiped out
and we could only leave a trail of DNA

The best thing to do is to escape in a rocket
and travel for 200,000 years

It’s my tribute to future time

There is still death and tragedy

but we can develop a range
of helpful abilities
like morphing into giant birds
and killing everyone
within a million mile radius

In the future you will not be judged
and you’ll never be heard of again

In the future
if you fall behind enemy lines
gravity will defeat you


I have a self-assembly
version of myself that is better
and a foot taller
with X-ray fingertips
for detecting fake money
and that doesn’t get sick or die.

I have pursuit capabilities and
aerodynamic cheekbones.

I operate myself
from the outside.
My arm can move
a multitude of objects
and none of them
will influence the world.

I look in the mirror
and see an exact double
but not a mirror image.
It is my death scene playing out.

One time I let a helicopter crash
not knowing if I was inside
and whether I was meant to be injured.
I looked around for props -
weapons, escape ladders,
family photographs.

I wake myself from the inside
I don’t wake up
Nothing matches up
I am playing for my life

Time edits out
as much as it records.
Your face will become mine.
Years from now you will be who I am,
talking to you.

I am at home with mirrors on my eyes.


Chelsea Cargill is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her three poems about Native American saints and converts have been published in Stand magazine (based at Leeds University, UK) and she is also included in Poetry Scotland. Her prose-poetry essays about Jacques Cousteau and P.T. Barnum have been published in FuseLit magazine (London) and she's in the current anthology New Writing Scotland.

She also likes writing songs about old B-movie stars, cowboy shootouts and fighting lost causes.

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