This week we are featuring a short story by Ste MackIntosh entitled “Foundational Crack”. The story, slightly bizarre and wholly entertaining, walks the line between the real and the imagined in a charming and funny way.
The snow had gone, more or less. A homeowner I passed on my way home had blown up an inflatable Charlie Brown, larger-than-life-sized, and set him up in a dark bedroom window. His rubber head cinched round in a pattern like a perfect cauliflower. He held a red LED candle to his face, that glowed unearthly orange on his features. What vigil could he have been on? Who was he waiting for?
Today the we are proud to bring you two poems from poet Tim Gordon titled ‘Coxcomb’ and ‘Pastureland.’ Both of these pieces draw on the tradition of pastoral literature in that they contrast an idealised countryside with the artificiality of urban and modern trappings.
The outback pasture,
New-mown hay bales
Sun ripening each tan-rich,
While mares and sires,
Singly, and in homely pairs,
Black Angus cattle
Crouching on haunches
In tarry midsummer mud
Explore what’s left of earth,
Today we have another short story by Christian Fennell. His narrative tone is consistent with this first piece, ‘Under the Midnight Sun‘, but both stories are unique. The prose in ‘In a Big World’ is calm and surreal, the characters sad and deep, and the storyline mysterious and captivating.
In a Big World
A simple silhouette to a barren land and a dead crow’s nest hangs falling before the coming night, and you can see me. I know you can.
I close the door of an old pickup and watch it drive away, the sound of the tires on the gravel wanting the last of my resolve. But I won’t let it go. No. And I am coming.
The wind picks up and takes the nest and it drifts crazy-like above the road—so far now from that little bay of Bala, hands laid upon the water.
The nest breaks apart and flutters away, and I walk away, slow and unsure, beautifully broken and drifting—perfect really, for this movement: wandering and wondering, in a big world.
The wind pushing me on still, and now down a narrow path between tall trees born of the coming night’s broken light—most of wanting is always there, in the trees without leaves, in the wind: You can’t have everything. You can’t fix everything.
This week’s piece is a poem written by Bahamian writer and teacher, Ana-Alicia Burrows. ‘Haze’ is a narrative poem that explores what it means to be human and heroic through myth and legend.
A new moon patrols the night sky
Alone he sits,
Fog rolls in, thick as haze
Covering the floor of the land with a ghostly grace
He embraces the hold of the mist.
It is enough to shield him, hide him from himself
For what right has he to such things as vanity
There is no beauty where there is no humanity
No true life to one who defies nature
Against everything he was, a sin cast into the world
No good could he possibly be
Yet no evil he felt, just broken, just misery.
A call screams through the white shadows that swim around his feet
Pleading past the poison of his beastly soul
His heart paces, beats ahead of his feet. Continue reading
This week we have a short story by Christian Fennell, “Under the Midnight Sun.” Its strength stems from its ambiguity and its ability to raise questions while painting a strange, evocative picture of a barren land disrupted by this unspecified man.
Under the Midnight Sun
Oh fuck no.
He lifts his head from a thick and darkening pool of his own blood, hellish pain rushing forward.
He spits dirt and gravel from his mouth and he brushes away bits of it stuck to the side of his face.
He sits up and rests his arms on his knees and leans forward and closes his eyes and exhales.
He opens his eyes—RVs are driving by. A long line of em. Continue reading
Welcome back to Words, Pauses, Noises. This week we have a fantasy short story by Kingston University creative writing MFA student Sophia Yumi Yamamoto. It is a dark and touching tale of a girl who seems to be slowly losing herself. What I loved most about this were the allusions to an a popular fairy tail. Some are obvious, but others you really have to look for.
(I Shall Not Survive You)
Midnight fell and I found myself sobering up lying on my back at the top of the ridge. When had I taken that last pill? The night had been going great, but I hadn’t remembered climbing up the side of the hill. I had an open jar of Nutella that was missing the lid on my stomach and a lit cigarette in my right hand. Ed was on my left, his fingers fumbling through his crumpled, nearly-empty pack of 100’s for another stick. I watched him. Somehow every micro-movement he made felt special even if Ed was far from Prince Charming status.
Then the crow came, his neck wrapped with black mulberry leaves and the dark red fruits of that tree. He looked at me, hovering just overhead as quiet as the rest of the darkness.
“I shall not survive you,” he said, his voice gently forlorn despite the caw. “I shall not survive you.”
I blinked, slow as a cat on a hot day, and the crow was gone.
“Babe,” Ed said, rolling over and taking my hand in his warm one, kissing my stone cold knuckles. “I love you.”
Well, that was new.
When had Ed started calling me babe? Why?
Shit, we were high.
This week we have a poem from Canadian poet Jessica Robinson, entitled “who we are.” For her, love embodies various forms of being, but never human. Each section focuses on a different element, concluding with a powerful last stanza.
who we are
I once had a boy made of water. He lived
in a glass jar, would swim around and ask me to
take him to the pool. He loved dolphins and
he never looked at me. He called me Jonah
and swallowed me whole.
I called myself Geppetto, took to fishing inside
of him. I had a boy made of water and he would melt me
like sugar and I would hate it. He would pull my insides out
and leave them strewn across the yard. He would whisper his
secrets into conch shells but not my ear. I had a boy made
of water and he didn’t love me and I didn’t want him to.
He thought I left him for fire and I didn’t but I
wanted to. Continue reading
The editors of Words. Pauses. Noises. are taking a week off from publishing to enjoy their last day of Spring Break. We would like to call your attention to our submission guidelines, however, and remind our readers that we are open for submissions of poetry, short stories, or creative nonfiction from writers from all over the world and from any background. We look forward to reading your work and we hope everyone had a happy Easter!
This week we are featuring another poet, Tanushree Ghosh Dhall, and two of her poems: “The Dark Girl Going Places” and “Honor”. “Dark Girl” tells a story of a girl moving across the world, and how her standard of beauty is drastically altered. “Honor” is a heartbreaking remembrance of trauma and abuse that ends on a moment of hope – the hope of finding true happiness in another despite years of striving to be accepted.
The Dark Girl Going Places
How does it feel to be a dark girl changing countries?
To be attractive in one but not in another?
To have a secret stash of fairness creams
Useless and embarrassing now – but just in case
To be able to wear bright colors all of a sudden?
Knowing no one here will object
How does it feel to see what they see?
To dare and feel beautiful ..
After being admonished so many times?
To browse newsfeeds about outrage in the twitter sphere
against discrimination real and perceived
blackface, Oscars, lip shapes..
While staring at the newspaper the parcels from home came wrapped in
asking for fair brides only
This week we are featuring three beautiful poems from Indian poet Bhupender K Bhardwaj: “The Zone,” “Winter Afternoons,” and “Ebullience.” Bhardwaj demonstrates an incredible command over language and writes with beautiful imagery, whether it be wheat stalks in the sun or roasted capsicum. At times, his writing blurs the line between poetry and prose without ever losing the rhythm and flow of a carefully crafted poem.
To be away from the fenced-in ventilated mental space you call yours,
To be distanced from the shuttered shops, the cobblestones of the street
And the blue meditating between the gabled houses is to be in painful exile.
Removed become the routines that like a cave used to shelter you from the
Cruel jabs disappointments gave. Earlier, the white of milk in the hollow of
The glass used to mimic cosmos and your German shepherd lapping up water
From its customary bowl pleased you no end. The evening strolls along
The shaded avenues always took you one step closer to enlightenment.
The world was one gigantic jigsaw puzzle; open to interpretation whose pieces
Would fit in anyway, after the slightest effort.