Creative Work: ‘Suffering Saints’ by Thomas McDade

Creative WorksThis week we have another riveting short story by Thomas McDade, who brought us ‘Skydiving‘ last week. In ‘Suffering Saints’, the prose is quick and punchy, with McDade never lingering on any one event, whether it be a priest smoking pot or an attempted bleach-induced homicide by a lover. The flow of the piece is fluid and perfectly-paced, the narrative voice is unique and humorous, and the characters do well to keep the reader’s attention throughout.

Suffering Saints

Lofty the Saint Maven had “gentle” stamped all over him as obvious as the scar on his face. He thought I knew about St. Lydia before we met but it wasn’t until I heard him reeling off Saints for the dwarf dishwasher that I looked up my name. A reference librarian gave me some of the information.  A St. Cloud Chapel priest I’d stumbled upon smoking pot at nine p.m. sitting on a park bench served up more details.  I was walking a manic Jack Russell Terrier when I whiffed weed.  Father Todd was wax bean of a man with a clump of unmanageable blond hair.  A sexton who saw his shadow on a wall said it looked like a royal palm but teens whispered “royal pain.”  Continue reading


Creative Work: ‘Foundational Crack’ by Ste MackIntosh

This week we are featuring a short story by Ste MackIntosh entitled “Foundational Crack”.Creative Works The story, slightly bizarre and wholly entertaining, walks the line between the real and the imagined in a charming and funny way.

Foundational Crack

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?

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Creative Work: ‘Under the Midnight Sun’ by Christian Fennell

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 Creative Worksdisrupted 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

Creative Work: ‘My Husband, the Statistician’, and ‘Better Than Fiction’ by Erica Brenes

This week we are featuring two poems by Erica Brenes. “My Husband, The Statistician” isCreative Works a beautiful, loving description of two poets, each in their own way — a husband and wife both equals and opposites. “Better Than Fiction” is an equally heartfelt tribute to a shared life better than one created in the head of a writer.

My Husband, the Statistician

You wake before me, and you dig beneath the covers.
Lying at the foot of our bed, you then uncover
Just the smallest bit of me.

With care, with tenderness,
with a palpable quietness,
and me still asleep,
you then drag the blunt edge of your thumb
across the vein that so often juts from the top of my right foot.

Pronounced and raised,
It speaks out beneath my tattoo,
and you speak back. Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Mad Love Goes to the Beach’ by Lisa Samloglou

Creative WorksIn her short piece, ‘Mad Love Goes to the Beach,’ Lisa Samloglou engages all five of her reader’s senses as she chronicles her internal struggle between her childhood love of the countryside with her rebellious teenaged preference for the city. She allows us to see the lush green of the landscape outside of Athens, smell the sea salt as she walks along the beach and picks up shells, hear the cicadas hum late at night, feel the fresh dirt of a self-planted garden beneath our fingertips, and taste the sweetness of figs and watermelon.

Mad Love Goes to the Beach

I grew up in the city. Longer stays in the countryside were scheduled for school holidays. Sunday excursions to the outskirts of Athens informed my school compositions with the title ‘ A Sunday with my family’, a topic that throughout elementary school our teachers felt compelled to ask us to write about. The best among them were to be read out in class. So, some of my excursions were verbalized for children who did not share my good fortune. Back in the 60s, my parents could afford even a car to take us, my brother and myself, for privileged breaks from the urban monotony. They were also anxious to initiate us to another landscape, my mother’s natal environment, the one she was deprived of early in her life, as her parents had moved from a mountain village to the city to chase jobs and educational opportunities for their children.

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Creative Work: ‘The Poet’s Resistance’ by Jason Walker

Creative WorksOur first post of 2016 comes from a composition professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jason Walker’s flash fiction offers a humorous and surreal vision of a poet racking his brain to come up with the “Next Great American Poem,” all while searching for the hidden meaning of a devil cake. Walker plays with the agonizing inner monologue of a struggling writer and personifies the demons that hinder the creative process.

The Poet’s Resistance

The man with soggy eyes waited outside my front door as I retyped the first line of what I hoped would be the next great American poem: This is the poem for all unhealthy youths . . . . But once I sensed the man’s presence outside the door again, I went blank. So I brewed tea and ate a devil cake, watching people ridicule each other on television. Then I glanced through the peephole. Another line arrived: hand your handfuls of devil cakes back to the devil. “Here’s our next great American poem,” I said aloud. “Here’s what we have to look forward to.” Continue reading

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: ‘The Forge’ by Alex Brinded

Creative WorksKingston MFA student Alex Brinded returns to Words, Pauses, Noises this week with a piece which confronts the raw power of nature.

‘The Forge’ is all about sound and sensation. We encourage you to read this one aloud to get the full effect.

The Forge

Wind-pulled, world-spun waves
crash, a golden
scimitar of shore
glinting in the late morning sun heat.
Raging breakers rain hammer blows and
beat, down
upon this land’s frayed hem.

Each minute
millions of years old,
twenty three quintillion atoms across.

Mere stone particles that
once were fused as crude formations—
a millennia of barrage has pummelled this coast
line into fundamental

Now, an acute banked blade of golden grit,
no longer breakable,
in the spouting forge.
White water rollers fracture into white noise.

My burrowed palm and fingers are swaddled in the sand.
It gives easy as I dig down,
it’s cool
and soft
down here.

Bold images and strong sounds match the broad scope of the poem’s subject matter. Brinded takes us from the large expanse of time—the world’s creation—down into a single moment all in the space of several short stanzas.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to stop by again next week for more great work from around the world!

Creative Work: ‘Rising to the Surface’ by Ryane Nicole Granados

Creative WorksThis week we have a short story from repeat contributor Ryane Nicole Granados. Set in California, this piece takes a look at whether or not there is such a thing as neutral influences in our lives. 

The language of the prose is strong and moves the reader fluidly through to the end. We hope you will enjoy it. 

Rising to the Surface

“And after Miss Asher resisted arrest, is it true that she proceeded to kick from the back of the squad car until the heel of her shoe wedged into the right wheel floorboard?”

At this point I begin to tune out the ticker-tape of the prosecutor and police sergeant whose photographic memory rivals the accuracy of the world time clock. Adjacent to the witness stand hangs an American flag and on the other side of the judge is the State of California flag. The peculiar state bear always looks to me like he is walking off the edge of the fabric. I can relate. I want to walk out too. The alternating floor tiles of white and brown feel like a childhood game of hopscotch calling my name. Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘This Modern Love’ by Joseph Pierson

Creative WorksIn the 1980s, the Talking Heads told us “you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself ‘Well… how did I get here?’” While those days of unbridled material excess may be over, our modern times pose new problems for the confused and lovelorn.

This week, Kingston University MA student Joseph Pierson brings us a snapshot of life and love in the era of social media. ‘This Modern Love’ offers the cheeky voice of Anna on a typical afternoon as she contemplates her surroundings—and her love life.


This Modern Love

Anna sits in the corner by a potted spider-plant and orders a coffee. She’s brought her own food, a box of sushi from Tesco. She injects white rice with soy sauce from a tiny plastic fish.

Fuck me, she thinks, you’re so sophisticated.

She chuckles to herself. It’s November, bright and cold, a pink smudge across the sky. Giro day. She opens her notebook, a touch self-conscious, enjoying it anyway. Her coffee comes. The regulars, some of them, nod and say hi and Anna smiles back and every time (every time) she smiles back she thinks brightly of herself, you know, you have a really charming smile, Anna.

She sits here with a black Americano writing something, doodling, a scene or a sketch for a scene – It’s difficult to drive while blind drunk and fucked on crack – and a girl comes in, a girl she’s seen before. The girl is tall, she always has a cold, she’s wearing a loose-knit yellow cardigan over a series of tops and skinny black jeans. The barista at the counter bashes the coffee-scoop against the machine and says, “Skinny latte?”

Continue reading