Friday 14 October 2022

Sudden Prose Reprints: Isabel Galleymore's 'True Animal'


True Animal

On a dozy summer's day, a donkey magpied a lion's skin that the hunters had left to dry in the sun. What else had the donkey to do, but chameleon himself inside it? As he swanned across the paddock in his new ferocious fur, the horse began to mouse, the hare grew chicken-hearted, and the chicken hared away. How good it felt to shark among the shrimp, he thought, and let out a proud hee-haw... The daisies widened their eyes. Mid-run, the chicken stopped. The hare, and then the mouse, dared themselves to look. Finding not claws but hooves, each turned upon him and, as any true animal would, parroted a short teaching on natures true and fox. 

Friday 14 January 2022

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Train to Polonnaruwa" by S. Niroshini


Train to Polonnaruwa

Colombo, 1995

That summer seemed so short, standing on the roof of my grandmother's house.

A crow watches from the lane, its black eye half-sunken in pulped aubergine;

strange feast, gesture of street-opulence, only the Poya moon that night familiar.

Trains to Polonnaruwa from Colombo on the horizon, to monuments in stone.

Blind to the violet waves of this country: fake flowers at airports, love cake, ayubowans. 

Little girls in white uniforms amble past mosques and churches, holding hands.

In the south-west monsoon, thunderstorms in Colombo are not what you might imagine.

Friday 2 April 2021

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Cinnamon" by Fawzia Kane



Watch how the skin peels, dislodges, is sloughed off to reveal inner layers of mottling, so soft and moist. This holds a tint only burning sugar can show, at that instant when it granulates from smooth clay to sheets of beaten copper. This wound, just here on the trunk, has already dried. Even the leaves turn brittle, curl into fingers, and desiccate to crumbs. Examine these differences of duskiness, the scale of halftones that play out among and over us, during our quick dawns and lingering twilights. How many will mingle in crowds, to be tied to others with strings of painted lines? Which of these, when they touch and interweave with us, will you still believe are invisible? Remember, remember the splintering of their scent through the prism of air, the lick of it, the hot taste against the inside of our throats, the hurt on, the hurt of the tongue.


Fawzia Kane 
Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry, ed. Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Peepal Tree Press, 2018)  

Friday 12 February 2021

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra – Dalí, 1936" by Geraldine Clarkson

Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in their Arms  the Skins of an Orchestra – Dalí, 1936  


Having always used her music as an instrument, a gift to stifle hurt in others, a searching for a niche into which she could stuff pansies or wallflowers, a grey to be drenched with peony or tangerine, she became pliable, perfectly responsive to circumstance, a kitten following its master, chase-and-nibble. At first she didn’t notice herself changing, so intent was she on pacifying with titbits the yawning jaw. Filling the jug of subjugation. Until she awoke in a boulder-desert, stone-faced, immaterial. Her life shrunk now to two needers who dominated: her mother and her daughter. Her music no more than a cipher, a distorted keyboard painted on a banner wrung out, flung out between her and the others, a mute offering. The godlike gift something less than animal or vegetable. A split skewed thing. And she, a rock-musician, no longer able to please anyone.


Geraldine Clarkson
Monica's Overcoat of Flesh (Nine Arches Press, 2020)

Friday 5 February 2021

Sudden Prose Reprints: "A Thursday" by Geraldine Clarkson

A Thursday

Attendant circumstances: the sun and the moon, in that order. Running home, no reason to think the house would not be as we’d left it. Mother wiping workaday hands on her stretchy pink overall. Father gulping down tea, talking to whoever was there, his soft-steel presence filling the house, so that we breathed in, moved carefully into corners. And my brother: thinning, staring, wandering off for longer and longer, forgetting to say where, just flushed cheeks and eyes shining like polythene. But the noise coiled through the windows and walls before we arrived—a wind of tangled voices sighing and soughing. The back door open. Mother not in the kitchen. Father, loitering. The next room quickly dark with cousins and uncles and Irish people, all here not there. On top of each other, two heads to each person. All the heads crying. And Mother by the fire, flanked by four aunts. Someone took us to a back room, away from the sobbing-wind sound, offered us sweets, as many as we liked, while day turned to night, in that order.

Geraldine Clarkson
Monica's Overcoat of Flesh (Nine Arches, 2020)

Friday 15 January 2021

Sudden Prose Reprints: "I Was Trying to Make Peace with My Past" by Vik Shirley

I Was Trying to Make Peace with My Past,


but my past was making it very difficult. Every time I would go to shake its hand, it put thumb to nose and wiggled its fingers. I tried cooking it a nice meal. All it did was make a fuss about the bones I'd left in the lamb tagine, to enhance the flavour. I tried Martinis: it didn't like olives; pavlova: it had a meringue allergy; after-dinner coffee: it couldn't have caffeine after 3pm. I started to wonder if it might have been easier to have remained enemies. Or better still, if I'd thought of it earlier, I could have poisoned the food and killed the past. But I knew one thing the past liked and that was a drink. So I slipped antifreeze into its Amaretto liqueur, and as we sat and drank, smoking Cuban cigars, listening to Andy Williams, I smiled to myself, knowing that any minute, the ethylene glycol would kick in. It was then the past turned to me and said: "I know I act mean, but I would like to make friends or peace or whatever you want to call it." I stumbled to the kitchen, where I added the remaining poison to my White Russian and downed it. Then we lay together, in each other's arms, until, at last, we were at peace. 

Vik Shirley

Friday 4 December 2020

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Object Poem" by Jane Monson

 Object Poem

We do not write about the object--we write about the shadow it casts or the reflection it throws back at us. We talk about the setting, the human dramas that crowd outside it. We try to know them all. The language. The disasters. We write about the wind that moves, throws, or breaks it, but ignore that so low to the ground, something like a stone can remain complete and still during the unhinged run of a hurricane, and that stillness of a tiny thing without so much of a flinch when nothing else stands a chance, is worth a thought at least. The words can follow later, in a mere handful, and that is something. Something at least, on which to build, or not, as the case may be.

Jane Monson
Speaking without Tongues (Cinnamon, 2010)