Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Issue 2 - October 2010

Welcome to Beguile

Autumn brings a chill to the once-warm air. Halloween brings thoughts of ghosts and scary things to our minds. In honor of the season, the pieces you find here have a theme: fear.  Not of the jump-out-at-you, horror film variety, but something deeper.  Loss, heartbreak, death, disillusion, or just the downright strange.  

The Beguile Team would like to thank all of our contributors for being a part of this issue.

We’d also like to remind all visitors that we’re always on the lookout for new voices. If you’ve got some writing or art to share, please check out our “Submissions” page, by clicking on “Submissions” on the right-hand column, just over there.

Whether you’re a fan or a first-time visitor, thank you for coming by, and remember our rally cry: Never stop trying to outwit your jailors!

Happy Reading and Viewing,

Alysa Salzberg, Editor-in-Chief
The Beguile Team


In this issue of Beguile:


Nadia Volodina takes us on a terrifying “Train journey south”.

Brittany Calkins makes us wonder if it’s worth going to “Breakfast with Charles”.

In “lonesome casanova”Sammy Thunders ruminates on a world of vice and solitude.

Chaz Flanders’ narrator has a very strange conversation with someone very unexpected, in “Bad Luck”.

Witness the suspended decay of a desert ruin in Dom Macchiaroli’s poem“Outpost”.

James M. Emmerling shares his “scariest Ghost story ever told”.


This month, we’re proud to feature work by two talented artists: Nadia Volodina and Patricia A. Smith.

As a photographer, Nadia Volodina is inspired by “anything and everything; the mundane world that is seen everyday or more unusual occurrences, a strange play of light or shadows, or through manipulating objects to make them look like something else entirely. Beauty is all around us;” she says, “it can be found in the most unlikely of places but wherever it is, when I see it I stop and try to capture it.”   To see more of Nadia’s work, you can visit her blog at:

For her featured photograph “First Traces”: “the scene just caught my attention, it was early winter and the first traces of snow and ice is the best way to describe it.”

Patricia A. Smith, our other featured artist, writes, “I'm a multi-media artist and writer who has lived, worked and played in several countries and currently resides inFloridaUSA.  My work has been exhibited in galleries and selected for juried art shows in major metropolitan cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, SOFA Chicago ( and  The Pen and Brush (  If I'm not painting, I'm writing; if I'm not writing, I'm painting.  If I'm doing neither, I'm unhappy.  Visit my website here:”

On the inspiration for her three works in this issue, Patricia tells us: “ ‘Missing Pieces’ explores a recurring theme in my work - the concept of compartmentalization and the use of squares, rectangles and boxes.  It sprang from a memory of getting lost while negotiating my way through Venice.  ‘Kiss and Tell’was part of a miniature series I created to prove (if only to myself) that much can be conveyed on a tiny canvas. ‘Becky's Shoes’ is a commissioned work.  Patrons give me a pair of their shoes and, after talking with them and perhaps collecting other personal items that are pertinent to their lives, I tell (a part of) their story in a completed work of art.  Becky is an internationally acclaimed photographer.”

We thank both of these artists for being a part of Beguile’s second issue.

And now, without further ado, prepare to be beguiled!

Train journey south
by Nadia Volodina

The train was completely dark but it kept moving in the tunnel regardless, its speed never slowing. He felt the presence of others on the train with him but he couldn’t feel them moving an inch; they were silent, all too silent.

He tried to merge into the wall behind him, become less visible and make his heart beat slower, quieter. Maybe those around him, like him, were trying to hide from each other or whatever that was out there. In a place like this, where ever it was, something else had to be out there? The purpose of him being here. That unknown thing had to be dark, darker than the pitch black train.

He was unaware of having no recollection of who he was and that it didn’t bother him, no worry that he couldn’t place his identity or why he was on this train, forever moving somewhere south. He simply was on this train and he needed to what? Outlast the darkness. The thought wasn’t his. He moved his head slightly to the right, where he knew where the passenger seats were, trying to place the voice but it was all quiet, the voice sounded in his head.

And now he was going insane, hearing words whispered in his mind that weren’t his own. He was in a moment of absence where only one thought pestered him, why those around him, who he couldn’t see, were so quiet, and yet he had no need to communicate with them either. With this new thought he edged closer to the wall, without actually moving, there was no where else to move but forward, something he wasn’t yet ready to do. He shut his eyes, and there was no difference in what he saw, it was pitch black then and it was pitch black now. Nothing changed at all, did it ever? He tried listening more to his surroundings, trying to establish if one sound stood out more in this vast emptiness. He heard the sound the wheels were making screeching against the rails, he heard the air beating against the metal frame of the train as it sped through the tunnel. Not everything was so empty.

He felt another change in the absence; he was definitely not alone now. A pressure has descended upon everything around him and he fought to open his eyes to the still darkness. At the end of the carriage before his was something new, there the darkness was deeper. Without experiencing any shock he realised this something was getting near, it was coming to him. Within seconds the darkness around him was darker, he saw no colours or details but he could make out a shape of a giant hound, its head reaching the ceiling of the train, sitting on his haunches, grinning at him like a hyena. Told ya, you needed to outlast the darkness. The hound stiffed and moved closer.

Failing to come up with a better idea he smiled too and the darkness simply grew.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nadia Volodina
I am a wandering spirit at heart, something I hopefully will do with a notepad and a camera in my immensely-filled-with-junk bag. I try to make sense of the world around me with what tools I have but always feel like I have been here many times before just not in the same circumstances. To see more of my work, please visit my blog:  To read some of my writing, please visit:

ABOUT THE STORY: There is no deeper meaning to this piece, nothing intentional anyway. It is scooped in the primeval, the fear of the dark, the fear of what is hidden where no eyes can see, a darkness that has always existed but any meaning on the personal level depends on the reader alone. Maybe this short piece brings it back to the dawn of times, to the beginning of all beginnings because what is out there is not known, it's hidden.

“First Traces” by Nadia Volodina

Breakfast With Charles
by Brittany Calkins

He tells me he had once boarded a burning train on purpose.

I ask if he wants cream in his coffee.

“I’ll put my cream in your coffee.”

He makes a sound which I can only describe as a snarf.

Reaching past his pot-belly, he furiously rubs his groin.


Pulling a pant-let up, he frees a flask holstered to his ankle.

Takes a long swig,

lights a cigarette,

tells me,

“The people walk with such an indifference I begin to hate them,

but then again I’ve never really been fond of anything.”

He talks for awhile spouting his odd-yet-truthful sage wisdom.

I close my eyes and think of him as a ruler of men, a Grecian God.

I open my eyes.

He’s redder than Satan and smells like scotch, smoke, and piss.

He finishes what’s left in his flask and throws it over his shoulder-

Like salt for good luck.

A new cigarette is lit between his lips before the old one is done dying in the ashtray.

Grumbling, belching, scratching, and staring - 5 minutes.

I ask if he hates people.

“I don’t hate them…I just feel better when they’re not around.”

I take this as my cue to leave, and mutter something about being hungry.

He mutters back something about his purple onion.
 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brittany Calkins 
I am a 25 year old female who resides in Montana. I have always been inspired by literature and experimental poetry. I currently am a member of Writers Cafe and post
poems and short stories. To check out more of my work go to: 

ABOUT THE POEM: The above piece was inspired by one of my favorite authors, Charles Bukowski. It is what I would imagine a conversation with him would be like.

“Missing Pieces” by Patricia A. Smith

lonesome casanova

by Sammy Thunders
lifeless libertine
in pursuit of nothingness,
i wished upon a fallen bar
and got everything
i never wanted.
and only the lonesome casanovas
understand what the 4 ams
and hangover coffees
look like
devoid of any good thing.
with them i share
my solitary shame,
that i would sacrifice
my half cocked razor grin,
recycled bogart charm,
and sin surmounting hips
if it meant my bed's other half
stayed warm
the rest of my nights.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sammy Thunders
Sammy Thunders writes like he lives: harsh, honest, unfaltering. A working class intellectual, Sammy's poetry displays street wise insight and gritty realism, punk rock spitfire and romantic charm. Perpetually alone in a crowd, Sammy's humor and hostility set both his character and poetry apart from the mainstream. A resident of HarrisonburgVA, he continues to write as he continues to live.  You can check out more of his work at:

ABOUT THE POEM: Writing this piece was like grave robbing. I don't live this way anymore, but because of how long I used to, I can't help but think about it everyday. Even though I don't remember half of it. The one upside of binge drinking I suppose.


Bad Luck
by Chaz Flanders
I saw the girl with the same face as me just outside the shopping centre and she was busking. We were about the same age except she had a big throbbing red scar across one side of her face and a smaller one on the other side. I always feel really bad seeing people who run away from home, so I tried to think of an offensive hobo joke to distract myself. She wasn't even playing a real instrument; it was some contraption made from cardboard boxes and cat gut, which sounded something like a rubber band and a broken drum kit. Her hair was even the same colour as mine, and glossier, which was odd. As I walked past, I hoped I wasn't the only one ignoring her.

"I think I'm going to quit smoking. It's becoming too dangerous." a hobo says.  "Yes. Twice today I picked up a cigarette butt and someone nearly ran me over." 

She didn't ignore me. 
"HEY! Separated at birth!" Her voice was hoarse, but not what I would expect from a homeless person. She sounded a bit like an angry newscaster. She was staring at me and not looking away, even when I turned my head left and right and made motions implying I was about to leave. Her eyebrows were bushy and arched, both of her little black eyes were pinpointing me, and I was standing around, dithering. I finally succumbed and approached her and her little brownish rug. I dropped twenty pounds into her upturned hat and made a step to leave, but I knew I wasn't getting away that easily so I sat beside her and I turned my face towards her, so that we were facing each other, so that it was like looking in a distorted mirror, nose to nose, and I asked her, looking her straight in the eyes, what's your story?

I was expecting a tale of chronic misery and I got it, though she did have concern enough for me to skim over the first fourteen years of her life and get to the interesting part- running away, of course. All she took with her was a PSP and a couple of books, which she sold in the first week. It was an impulsive move, as far as I could tell. 

"After I left, there were so many problems I couldn't think about them all in one go." she said, her voice strangely eloquent.  "Every time I thought about me, myself, the number of flaws was too many to keep track of. Everything seemed unsolvable. It was like the way some people think about really bad places like Afghanistan or something, really impossible places, they think, oh God, what a hellhole, why not just nuke the entire thing? "
I think having the same face as her made me easy to spill out her heart to. I quite enjoyed hearing her sorrows, too, I was almost disappointed when the story took a positive turn. After a couple of weeks on the street, she joined some sort of cult and had been living with said cult for the past two years. Her instrument was not made from cat gut or cardboard, apparently, it was teak-wood; she gave some convoluted reason about how this was relevant to the cult, though, of course, without ever mentioning the word 'cult'.

Their leader was apparently a thin, chain-smoking Russian woman who harboured a pathological hatred of communism, due to some nasty experiences under a Stalinist dictatorship. She, apparently, would not believe that cigarettes caused cancer and claimed that this was Cold War era propaganda intended to disturb and frighten the Western world. Naturally, this cult leader was in love with capitalism and had gone so far as to plaster the commune in which the cult lived with Coca-Cola adverts and Andy Warhol (replica) paintings. 

The girl with the same face as me started to play on her instrument again and I found her even more pathetic. It was a cacophonic mess, the sound equivalent of a torn plastic bag filled with rubbish. Her fingers were the same shape as mine but moved in messy, spiderlike, simple patterns. I wanted to pull them off and rearrange them properly in the sequences I played on my cello. She closed her eyes as she played, as if it were some deeply spiritual, emotional experience. I found this hilarious.

Apparently, there was a ritual every Saturday morning where the congregation would sit and stare at a blank white screen in silence, watch the random shadows and hear the unintended background noises - in worship of Smith’s Invisible Hand.

I tried to imagine what this kind of life would be like but I could not. So I asked.

I felt vaguely amused as she frantically pulled out leaflets and flyers and posters from her pockets in a mini-hurricane. I think it would have been easier for both of us if she wasn’t so destitute. She talked fervently about how the cult leader was a strong independent woman and a genius and a God and how she was going to grow up and become an innovative entrepreneurial heroine, a beloved leader, grandeur and riches galore. She even stood up, like a televangelist or a demagogue and waved her arms around; she repeated slogans and sound bites, each time with more confidence – ‘The smallest minority is the individual!’ – in a kind of desperate crescendo, even grabbing me by the shoulders and begging me to believe her. It was at this point I walked away.
I'm a sixteen-year-old female human, amateur writer and editor of 'The Underground', a weekly online newspaper you can check out  I'm also an amateur game designer/ programmer and will release my first game 'Urban Myth' later this year. 
ABOUT THE STORY: This piece was partly inspired by the way we deny reality that we do not like and substitute our own. This idea came to me after hearing an anecdote about the cult of Ayn Rand, which is referenced in the writing. It was also vaguely inspired by ideas of determinism and fatalism, which is why it is titled "Bad Luck".

“Becky’s Shoes” by Patricia A. Smith

by Dom Macchiaroli

A cracked old cistern
leans rusting against the stucco wall.
The sounds of breaking glass from the once screaming bordello
now but a distant echo in the dust-burned twilight.

Faded landscapes;
each a self-reflecting illumination
of some ancient Indian tale,
each with a ghost story inflicted in its midst.

Pulled out bureau drawers lean out over rotten wood floors,
each telling the same story,
of this place where drunkards
sprawled dead in the desert sand
learned lessons taught by school master six-guns
and received only one grade
for their lifelong achievement tests.

The old building burns now,
subjected to flame by lightning out of an August sky.
A place where a storm rolled through
much the same as it did when the place was new.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dom Macchiaroli
Dom Macchiaroli writes irritating essays and flash fiction for fun. He has two books on the market; “My Parakeet was an Anarchist” and “Skateboarding on the Appian Way.” Both are available from Amazon, Waterstones, and many other fine Web retailers. Dom can be reached at
His work has appeared in The Short Humour Site, Long Story Short, Leaf GardenPress, Apollo’s Lyre and others.
He has a writing page on Facebook and a blog at
Dom can be found on the web at:
Dom enjoys making fun of the cat in his spare time.

ABOUT THE POEM: I am intrigued by the stories old buildings tell. I was driving on a deserted highway out west and saw this abandoned and ancient shack still standing upright against all the laws of physics, and doing it absolutely in the middle of nowhere. At the same time, a rare desert storm was brewing in the distance. The combination of ominous weather and the oddity of this lonely structure gave me an idea for the piece. This shack needed a story, so I gave it one. It has since collapsed and weathered away, claimed by the desert.

“Kiss and Tell” by Patricia A. Smith

scariest Ghost story ever told
by James M. Emmerling
He had been my love since childhood. Always pale, disheveled, in inappropriate clothes. His hygiene was not careful but I did what I could. He took on his father's trade, carpenter, but barely worked at it. He often spent time alone, I know not where.
  I grew up with him, his quiet shadow.  Crazy Mary.
  Then he went away.
 When he finally came home, he had changed, come out of his lovely shell. The man within turned out to be someone I somehow had suspected was always there. I grew bold. I spoke to him in front of his friends. In front of men. He always halted in his speech, smiled, put his head down, nodded to some internal source, and lightly laughed, before he set his eyes upon me to respond.
 I usually fell into a brief trance from his answers. No one could see me anymore, because I was hidden in him, in a place he had made where no one could ever find me. He'd know I was there. Safe. He often winked at me when parsing a rather complicated old phrasing.  My bobbing head reflected the rise and fall of his words. He took pleasure putting me in this thrall.
  When I learned they had taken him into custody for something or other he had said, I fell into a catatonic despair.  Then the quick justice was done. I attended, in spirit but not body. It was a nightmare I kept telling myself. Finally it was over.
  A few days later, I could barely make my legs walk to the place where his mother had insisted he be placed. For his rest.  I needed to see him privately, one more time, at last out of those jackals' jaws.
  Head down as always, scraping the ground with my repaired sandals, I was thinking of the best thing he had ever said as I approached the tomb. I stopped, fell into something far beyond grief, and nearly collapsed.
Arms held me up. A familiar smell. I thought I was dead. I looked up into his eyes. Yes I was dead.
He said, mouth to my ear: "Say that. What you just said in your head. To all of them."  He helped me to the ground, where I lay shivering at his feet.
Awhile later, I dared to take a breath. It fell raggedly down into awareness. I opened my eyes, alone. I heard a far off bell ring. I got up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James M. Emmerling
James M. Emmerling
43 yr old WASP
in suburban CT, USA
living all his life in the same town
wherein he was born .

The lady of whom i write has been
a bit of an obsession for me off and on
throughout my life...
as well as the gentleman in the story.
Poetically, not religiously.