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. 

Withdrawal

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 The rhythmic questioning of outdated practices only emphasises the underlying theme – the pointlessness of war.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!

Competition Winner – Poetry: ‘Drag King’ by Lauren Merin

Creative WorksWe are pleased to present the winning entry in Poetry from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition, ‘Drag King’ by Lauren Merin.

This poem really stood out for us. It pushes language to its limits and paints a vivid picture, and it was a delicious read.

Our judge felt that this poem crafts language beautifully, and is well-balanced and structurally sound. She found the poet’s use of language to be exploratory, exciting and fresh, and that the language is used in an original way to describe the darkness and glitz of a particular world, where as a reader, we enter on many levels. The poem pushes the boundaries of literal meanings without losing the sense, the core of what the poem sets out to explore. What engages the reader is the poet’s ability to look at how language can be used to express complicated ideas and the poet’s attention to detail. The final line in the poem, ‘I can see you by sequin,’ summarises the multifaceted sphere of this accomplished poem. 

We would like to note that this poem uses a particular structural form which our blog platform does not allow us to replicate. Thus, we have included a photo of below the poem so the reader may see how it is intended to look on the page.

Drag King

Shoals of shaved heads
An asymmetrical pin
Plunged through
Thin skin
You kiss

flash/flash/flash

Silver glint of slit lids
A hip-switching swish

Flippant

Continue reading

Competition Shortlist – Short Fiction: ‘Moonlight for One’ by Leslie Calhoun

Creative WorksToday we feature the first piece from the Short Fiction Shortlist from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition, ‘Moonlight for One’ by Leslie Calhoun.

As editors, we felt that the story stood out for its clear prose and active descriptions.

What our judge had to say about this entry has been placed at the conclusion of this post, so as not to spoil the twist in prose this piece was picked for. 

Moonlight for One

We are alone in the moonlight. Its milky beams illuminate the tension between us like some cold spotlight. I can’t move. One step, and there won’t be any turning back. But maybe that’s what I want.

The brightness almost feels like midday. We should have seen it. Crouching half-buried in a mound of dirt, waiting to snatch a foot, a limb, a life.

Dominik Walesa stands a few feet in front of me. Just a few feet. If I stretch my hand forward, I could almost touch him. His eyes are wide, and I’m certain the fear I see there is just a reflection of my own.

We stand frozen in the field like that for maybe a minute, maybe an hour. Everything is silent. I can’t even hear the crickets in the hedge anymore. But I can almost feel the earth ticking, waiting for the explosion that one step will bring. I know Dominik can feel it, too. The longer we stand there, the louder the ticking reverberates against my eardrums. Step…off…step…off, it seems to whisper.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Caramia Rediviva” by Wilson F. Engel, III

Creative WorksThis week’s creative piece steps outside the box to deliver a look into the mind of thirteen-year-old zombie hunter Caramia Rediviva. Arizona-based writer Wilson F. Engel, III gets creative in his rendering of Caramia’s world and the result is an entertaining and fast-paced piece of short fiction.

Caramia Rediviva

My frame defines me. Now you see me . . . now you don’t. Flitting around the mall on my new bike with my hair flying like a red streak behind me, I defy authorities of all kinds, even the authority of the Newtonian physical laws of the universe. Zombies have no regard for niceties, and they can be found almost anywhere. Over there, right now, is one of THEM. By the Starbucks. Excuse me, I will ride this way and that, slide under the barrier, and voila! Zap you! Another Zombie gone, no thank you to my pursuers.

Now the Feds have me traced and tracked. They don’t know about THEM or about ME. Imagine calling my DAD! Sheesh. As if I am some sort of monstra. Well, thank you, I guess I am. How would you like to wake up in a pool of your own blood? Thought so. Tell me I should wait, I’ll guarantee you won’t see me tomorrow. I am Caramia the bicycle girl, the board girl, Zombie killer supreme. I rise from my own blood and run roughshod over your illusions, for they will kill you for certain.

Hear me, Zombies? Bloodsucking scum. Mall crawling on my bike, I dodge the law and, over there! Another one of THEM. Under and among the crowd, flash girls and dweebs, nobodies. I am the super agent of the impossible. Don’t look at me, you rafter. I am after THEM. My bike is my weapon, and here I go again. Brake, slide, fire. Another Zombie gone. And look—no blood in this one. No feast today, Zombie GF! LMAO.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Watching Over the Night’ by Lopa Banerjee

Creative WorksThis week’s provocative piece comes to us from Lopa Banerjee of Nebraska. Banerjee wrote this piece “in honor of Jyoti Singh, killed in the abominable ‘Nirbhaya’ incident of gang rape in New Delhi, India, in December 2012.”

The fluid lines and affecting, haunting images of the poem pull the reader in to the dark and sinister world where no woman is safe.

Watching Over the Night

The flesh of the night hangs loose, stale,
Around the cryptic cities where I roam.
My skull, the tautness of my skin,
My bones, joints, fatty cells
And flesh in between, the conduits of my blood
All dried, nibbled on, burnt away.
The pitch dark sky creeps, moonless,
Laughing with its vicious fangs.

Glowing was the night as we had soaked in
The sweetest breath of her descent.
The night had shone in our bodies.
The two of us, young lovers,
Brimming with moonlight
In the city bus, gazing from the window
At the luscious asphalt sky.
We were returning home from a feast of a film
The flawless, vital light of the night
Wrapped us, shadow-like.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘0 Days Accident-Free’ by Brian Tucker

Creative WorksThis week’s piece comes from Kentucky, with a flash of the future. With this piece Brian Tucker introduces us to what he sees as everyman’s experience in the year 2212.

0 Days Accident-Free 

A111’s neighbor hummed in the shower. She, B211, held a joyous drone, a sound foreign to him. He stretched his phone up to the ceiling, and clicked on its Recognition App®. The hum wasn’t precise, but the app was—it recognized a song from the end of the 2nd millennium.

Three loud knocks struck the door and A111 dropped the device.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Mal de Ojo’ by Keisha Cosand

Creative WorksThis week’s fiction piece comes to us from Keisha Cosand of Huntington Beach, California. The short story ‘Mal de Ojo’ depicts a complicated mother-daughter relationship, with a hearty dose of Mexican folk medicine thrown in.

Mal de Ojo

At the time, I had no hair. I was born with no hair, but that isn’t unusual. However, a four-year-old girl without hair is a community concern. As time went by, my mother, the family, and strangers in public began to worry. The nearly invisible peach fuzz never sprouted into anything more. My mother had been a Texan beauty queen who had made it to the state finals six years earlier, in 1969. Now, just twenty-four, married, with me, she considered a thing like a daughter with no hair a serious dilemma for the family. She began to panic, and growing my hair was her mission, her great cause. My great-grandmother told her to shave my head of what little semblance of hair I had—then thick curls would blossom from the hard ground of my skull. I saw my mom contemplating the razor in the bathroom one day, and I ran and hid in the hall closet. I was scared of the dark, but I closed my eyes tight, held my knees to my chest, and prayed to Jesus for hair.

Other matriarchs, well meaning of course, suggested things like spraying Pledge on my head every day for a month, poking it with a straight-pin to create small holes for the hair to grow, or, possibly even worse than the razor, a daily dose of milk of magnesia to loosen things up. After dinner one night, my mom insisted on trying it. I gagged at the smell and clenched my lips fiercely closed.

“Take it!” she said, and she stared long and hard into my face. I stared back with equal intensity. My heart began to beat faster because I had learned when to be terrified of my mother. This was one of those times, and I weighed the consequences in my brain.

Continue reading

Creative Work ‘Pigtails and Pressing Combs’ by Ryane Nicole Granados

Creative WorksThis week’s submission comes another North American writer, but this time we’ve detoured to sunny California.

With this piece, Ryane Nicole Granados gives us a poignant literary insight into what it means to become a woman. This work takes a look into how “beauty is pain” in a beautiful way that isn’t at all painful. 

Pigtails and Pressing Combs

Los Angeles, 1985

As a small child, I used to wear my hair in three pigtails. Grace would usually part two in the back and leave one on the top of my head, which she brushed to either the left or the right side. She would snap plastic barrettes on the end of each braid, coordinating the colors to match my outfit for that day. When wearing barrettes, one has to be very cautious. I learned this critical rule firsthand. If you fling your head around too fast, or get caught in an unexpected gust of wind, barrettes can assault your cheeks, or even worse your eyes, in a flurry of piercing plastic. At recess, if I leaned against the tetherball pole or glided high in the air on the sandbox swings, my barrettes would cast huge shadows on the ground. Shadows that resembled airplanes or birds in flight, soaring around my head like I was a watchtower or light pole.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Faith’, ‘Tinfoil’, and ‘Decisions’ by C. S. Fuqua

Creative WorksWPN is hopping South over the border this week to share with you three poems from C. S. Fuqua from Las Cruces, New Mexico. At once both visual and conversational, these pieces leave a lasting image on the mind.

Faith

The old man’s on the bank,
rifle ready to pluck off any head
foolish enough to break surface.
I don’t believe a word of it,
he says.
All this about the world heating up—
it’s nonsense.
Just normal cycle of things.
It’s all happened before.
Read the bible and you’ll see.
He spits, scans the water.
I ask him about the frogs
that glutted this pond
when I was a boy.
Just faded away, he says.
Probably farm poisons.
He’s silent for several long moments.
Finally, he clears his throat, says,
If this old world’s warming,
then it’s the fault of science.
That’s what gave us the means,
and that’s what can give us the remedy.
Water stirs, and a turtle’s head rises.
The old man levels the rifle, fires,
and the head explodes.
I ask, Why’d he surface?
Faith or calculated risk?
The old man chuckles,
still scanning the pond’s surface.
Damn thing was just stupid.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘if you can’t move, let the breath move..’ and ‘fragility’ by Audrey Dimola


We’re proud to announce that this week’s post comes to us all the way from Queens, New York native, Audrey Dimola.  At first glance, Audrey’s poetry may seem intimidating, its complexity daunting but its beauty obvious.  Interviews

Every piece of punctuation, every space and line break is painstakingly chosen to add greater depth to her onslaught of vivid images and demands that we read every line twice and ponder its meaning a third.  

if you can’t move, let the breath move..
if you can’t be the ship, be the oar.
if you can’t be the oar, be the compass.
if you can’t be the compass, be the slightest stirring
in the voyager’s heart that told him –
i will not waste this day like all the others.
if you can’t be the voyager, be the faintest flickering
of the arrow magnetized towards whatever is greater –
whatever you can see in that last moment,
with your eyes widened and the water in your lungs –
that suddenly makes you forget how to drown.

the smallest movement matters.
one shift toward home is precious,
even if you’re dragging yourself there –
hand over hand, finger over finger,
chipped and bloody – stunned senseless
from the sheer force of your forgetting.
don’t you remember? – reading, writing:
“there is a light that never goes out.”
there is a piece of you that cannot forget
the first bloom of god on man’s tongue
acknowledging himself, too, as infinite.
be courageous in your darkness.
the beginning of becoming took shape
with one pure cry to heaven,
inconsolable..

open your mouth and you
will find the words.

Continue reading