Creative Work: ‘Withdrawal’ by Francesca Lo Basso

Creative WorksThis week we are bringing you another piece fresh from the Kingston MFA programme. Francesca Lo Basso takes us to the front lines in this poem whose rhythm echoes that of soldiers’ footsteps. ‘Harrowing’ would be the best way to describe this piece, which uses the sonnet form to hammer out a poignant point. 


The question is: how do you stop a war?
Your body frozen, your mouth metallic—
through what new breach will you attack this chore?
As bullets rain from gun barrels phallic
and blistering bombs burden, burst, and blaze,
do you lay down your rifle, mock defeat?
Turn tanks in their tracks, greyed blur in the haze—
reliance, defiance, chivalrous retreat?
Do you beg? Do you wheedle? Do you con?
Does your voice resound? Does it rattle, roar?
The question still remains as we move on
to the refrain: how do you stop a war?
Empty words for soldiers now departed
because the hallowed truth is you don’t start it.

This poem finds its strength where most pieces might fail, in asking questions. The rhythmic questioning of outdated practices only emphasises the underlying theme – the pointlessness of war. 

Join us again next week for another jaw-dropping piece!


Creative Work: ‘lessons from mum (the hardest poem I’ve ever wrote)’ by Yessica Klein

Creative WorksThis week we have a poem from the talented writer and photographer Yessica Klein.

The power of this poem comes from its potent honesty. As a discussion of feminism through the view of someone not familiarised with the lofty theories behind it, this poem shines a refreshing and forceful light on the core of relationships between mother and daughter.

lessons from mum (the hardest poem I’ve ever wrote)

mum married a man who drank as her father
whom she lost at 15 due to alcohol poisoning

motherhood was her dream
so she gave up her job to raise her daughters properly
and both left
one to Berlin
one to Stockholm
at 22 and 20 respectively
Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Weathering (Winter on Nantucket)’ by Julia Rose Lewis

Creative WorksWPN is proud to be introducing a long line of phenomenal poets over the next few weeks, beginning with Kingston University Creative Writing MFA student, Julia Rose Lewis. Julia is not a stranger to form, often creating complicated works that rely on structure as much as content. Feel the cool rocks. Taste the salty water on your tongue. Listen to the crunch of the sand beneath your feet. All the senses are awakened as we travel to Nantucket, sitting on the rocks as the water crashes beneath us and the winter settles into our bones.

Weathering (Winter on Nantucket)






and wood.


he works with, and always water.

To the hand,

the sand is sticky and slippery the stone.

The island is a rock, Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Conversations About Rain’ by Stephanie Dotto

Creative WorksThis week, we’re hearing from one of the Words, Pauses, Noises editorial team, Stephanie Dotto, with her short story, ‘Conversations about Rain’. It explores the small irrationalities that appear in a relationship; a moment that most readers would empathise with and almost begrudge.


Conversations about Rain

 I rub the cloth along the speckled panes of my glasses and hold them up against the light. No luck. Still covered in spots. I watch through dirty lenses as you button up that green flannel shirt with the tattered collar. You snap the last button closed at your neck and I wonder if you are going to be able to breath properly. I shoot you a disapproving look, but I think you pretend not to notice. You know we are meeting my mother today. In my head, I am telling you to wear the blue sweater with the fox on it. It brings out your eyes and I think my mother will like that. There is a significant silence as you walk into the other room.

I can hear you rifling through the drawer beneath the fruit bowl. The sound goes on a few beats longer than it probably should have.

‘Babe, where is the key?’ You shout from the other room. Your voice sounds slightly muffled. Like you are standing at the far end of a very damp tunnel.

You walk back into the room and I hold up the apartment key that is tied to the long string I wear around my neck. You know it’s there but you are always forgetting. I glance out the window. It was sunny when we woke up this morning. We had opened our eyes to zigzagged rays of light painted across our skin that seeped in through the cracks in the curtains. But now the sun has fallen behind the clouds and the sky has adopted a doom-and-gloom sort of face.

‘Are you going to be warm enough in that?’ I ask softly as I rub my hand against your sleeve. It is slightly creased. These are the sorts of things my mother will notice.

‘It’s sweet how you worry.’ You kiss me tenderly on the forehead.

‘But you hate the rain.’

‘I know that.’

‘It’s obviously going to rain.’

‘We’ll deal with that when we come to it.’

Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

Creative WorksAs deadlines approach for papers and submissions at Kingston University MA program a certain frenetic energy takes hold of us and changes simple words into stories that capture imaginations. This is the right time to take a breather and check out other people’s ideas and realisations.

This week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we have a new author, ReBecca Compton, and her short story ‘Black Ocean’. This first person narrative seeks to explore the hidden, true nature within her characters, as well as every one of us. Come join us for a while as we drift in the waves of discovery.

‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

There he was with his friends and that woman, the one who never stopped touching him. Though it didn’t matter what she did, he never truly fell for her.

Not like he would for me.

I heard the clicking of my heels across the wood of the patio as I made my way to the drinks. I wrapped my hand slowly around the cup next to his.

“Hello.” I said it smooth and slow.

He met my eyes last. “I’m-I’m Brian.” He stuck his hand out. I smiled. Touch was key, and now he was asking to do the work for me.

My hand wrapped around his. “I’m Alix.” I ran my fingers down his palm as I released his hand, watched his pupils dilate. “I’m visiting from out of town. Tell me, if there’s one thing I need to see before I leave, what would that be?” I traced my finger along the rim of the glass and sucked off the salt.

“Oh that’s easy.” He pointed away from the party. “You need to see the ocean at dusk.” Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Mechanical Sheep’ by Stephanie Dotto

Creative WorksThis week on Words, Pauses, Noises, the veil between reality and fantasy twists and tears in a beautiful slice of magical realism. ‘Mechanical Sheep’ pulls the adult imagination back to its origins, blurring memories of first loves, the wonder of desire and a fascination with death. Words, Pauses, Noises takes great pleasure in presenting MA student Stephanie Dotto and her short story, ‘Mechanical Sheep’ to our creative platform. 

‘Mechanical Sheep’

By Stephanie Dotto

You sit with a boy you once loved who tells you that in the future we would all be made of metal.  He buys you a drink in a dimly lit bar and recounts stories of the lives that he has led since you saw him all those years ago.  You can’t remember the last time you touched him so you smile shyly and pretend like this is the first time he has lured you into his bed.  He reminds you that his apartment is just around the corner so you grab your things and follow him home.  His room has far less furniture than you remember, housing only a desk and a tall lamp that flickers every time the train passes too close to the window.  You sit on the bare floor, wondering where his bed has gone and where he keeps all his clothes as he hands you a glass of red wine and tells you about the civilization of mechanical men.  He tells you how we will evolve beyond our fragile bodies and delicate skin. He tells you these things as he takes off your dress and runs his fingers along your temporal skin, tracing maps of where the circuit boards would replace your bloodstream.  You remember all the nights spent lying on the floor of his apartment, spinning stories while you fought the urge to sleep. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘The Last Two People Left On The Night Bus’ by Tomek Dzido

Creative WorksLast week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we introduced Tomek Dzido as the founder of STORGY, an interactive short story platform. This week we’re featuring a story of Tomek’s, ‘The Last Two People On The Night Bus’. Genre fiction, especially short fiction, can be difficult to accomplish. The author must create an entire world within only a few paragraphs or pages, as well as wrap up that world with a satisfying ending. This work both builds and ends its world with a startling clarity that, while brief, is very descriptive and, in a manner of speaking, alive. Get ready for a chilling ride!

‘The Last Two People Left On The Night Bus’

By Tomek Dzido

It’s been three years since my mother ate Bruce. Three years since I heard him whimper and was forced to drive a cleaver deep into the back of her head. I remember watching her fall to the ground and feeling nothing as I buried the blade further into her skull, the inactive brain matter disintegrating and spreading out all over the abandoned pavement. Eventually she stopped moving, by which point it was Bruce’s turn to die, again. As I looked back towards my mum and stood over her ravaged and rotten body, I tried to recall the good times. The mornings in the garden with dad and Jenny, the warm croissants and fresh coffee, the laughter and long summer days, but they were lost to me now. I felt nothing. The only thing I experienced was hunger and exhaustion, and occasionally fear, but even that was rare, especially since there was nothing left to fear. There was no point in being scared. They would get you soon enough. It was only a matter of time. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story “Insomnimaniacal” by Ashley Nicholson

Creative WorksWords, Pauses, Noises is entranced, yet again, by the impalpable workings of Ashley Nicholson. Her writing carries an elusive vibe of knowing but not letting you know and ‘Insomnimaniacal’ epitomises the evasive aura of her style. As Neil Gaiman put it:  “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” Ashley’s ‘Insomnimaniacal’ found its first home with Synaesthesia Magazine’s September issue, ‘Cities’and we are fortunate to showcase it on Words, Pauses, Noises


By Ashley Nicholson 

I love the point in the night where the world goes grey and tastes of tin. Everything goes sideways a few degrees and makes sense. Less, some times; more in others. I can see, can trace the lines forward, backward. I reach through the past, pulling handfuls of painful memories to be parsed before morning. Sometimes, these feature in dreams. Wild, unpleasant things that trap me within the confines of my own head, knowing. Always, I know it for the untruth it is, the blatant falsehood of dreams.

Why, then, does it feel on these nights like the waking times and the dreams are reversed? I feel my feet leave the top floor of an old school building at the same time as the pounding of my heart jolts me into the world of sodium light lamps and the rumble-static of traffic. I feel myself drowsing, drowning in these London nighttime noises, its shouts and sirens. London is never quiet, never. The blinds are useless, my eyes open at each headlamp’s streak. The harsh white of morning comes too early in summer. In the winter, it never comes at all.

In these tin-flavoured moments I lie with my eyes closed, always pressed together because opening them will break the endless spell of half-waking. If I don’t open my eyes, sleep will come creeping across my pillows like some wild, wary creature. Instead I evaluate my life and criticise myself in ways that, in the daylight, seem insubstantial and somehow still too harsh. I construct elaborate scenarios that chip away at insecure walls. Waiting inside the ambiguous world of twilight hours, suspended between morning and evening. That place of too late and too early, unable to decide which side of the spectrum I’m on. Compelled into movement until I’ve hopelessly twisted the bedclothes. Always writhing to get away from the unpleasant thoughts, the truths and untruths, dreams both nascent and broken, burnt beyond repair or recognition.

All I want is to sleep; perchance not to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.

Writers are always inspired by their surroundings. Here, Ashley has taken two tangible ideas: insomnia and how it interacts with her physical backdrop as a Londoner. Next time you read look out for special, geographical influences in the story or poem and get a feel for how the writer was influenced by place and time.

We hope you enjoyed ‘Insomnimaniacal’ and that it inspires you to write your own piece about the simple (or not so simple) things in life.

Creative Work: Short Story “Thirty Years in London” by Krishna Anaberi

Creative WorksToday Words, Pauses, Noises is delighted to present another of our international students and screenplay writer Krishna Anaberi

Think of an awkward social situation, mental health issues, political (in)correctness, and then put them in a bus in north London. This is exactly what Krishna does in this short story, Thirty Years in London, a story that brings to the foreground comfort, fear, xenophobia, and the many faces of ‘national identity’.

‘Thirty Years in London’

By Krishna Anaberi 

The first page of The Guardian was all pictures about the last week’s riots and stories of how the shops were coping and getting back to life.  I turned the pages, not wanting to read any more of this. It was blown out of proportion by the media. Only the rain has been one hundred percent real. Not the best time to have my friends from Brazil over.

Murillo opened the curtains and smiled. “Look who’s out,” he said. It was sunny and almost looked like it had never rained. Rachel sighed, “English weather.”

We first walked to Hampstead Heath, the same park where George Michael was caught rubbing his torso against a truck driver. An ultimate tourist destination. Murillo was hoping he would run into a celebrity. No matter how much you walk, the green never ends in the Heath. Untouched by the riots, it was so peaceful. The park was deserted as we headed to Camden Town.

Rachel despised cigarettes but always wanted to smoke shisha so we sat around the table of a shisha shop. Murillo dragged a chair closer to the pipe placed in the center of the table.

“Camden is so empty, I think it’s the riots,” he said.

Rachel put the pipe down. “Can we please not talk about riots, we have been at it all week.”  The three of us went silent. It wasn’t like we were hurt in the riots or anything, but somehow the air in London seemed tense. We all just wanted to go back home.

“When I find time, I will go to East Ham and pick some Rotis for us,” I said. I thought of the infinite kebab shops, Saree-clad mannequins, and every second store with a name of an Indian God. With its neon rectangles and arrows flashing “Open”, East Ham is the only place which comes close to home. I didn’t like anything about East Ham. The Indians living there cling so desperately to their roots that they’re more “Indian” than people back home. They wanted the “Queen’s” money but not to eat the scones, it seemed. For me, East Ham was a place where Rotis could be bought in bulk for dirt-cheap.

We got on the 214 and headed home. Continue reading