Friday, 27 July 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Identity Narrative" by Jennifer Militello

Identity Narrative

Do not eat from October’s black hand, O my situation.

Are you still.  Listen.  Innocence: a seam to be stitched or split with a throw of omens.  I lay me down, my soul to keep.  I have sown my amen in the earth.

Sometimes, I live in the open.  My heartbeat a lamb, my heartbeat I am bleeding from the mouth a heartbroken rain.  The thin inches time will give me winter as I stand and watch.  The small in me has anthems made of time’s mouth made of thousands of beads.

I will read my more childish self to sleep.  She will use locusts only for as long as they robe the fields with the feeding they were meant for.  She will nest where bats nest, set curtains to burning, place a marker beside my name so that I might return.

Her heart, made of shale, lies in the mouth of a pious man.  Its verses are stalls that keep the wind ceaseless.  Its lamps cry light in the shape of young lovers as they two-step through the four rooms of God.

Jennifer Militello
A Flinch of Song (Tupelo, 2009)

Jennifer Militello is the author of Flinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award, Body Thesaurus, forthcoming from Tupelo Press, and the chapbook Anchor Chain, Open Sail. Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Best New Poets 2008. She can be found online at

You can purchase Flinch of Song, her first collection, from Amazon in the UK (I couldn't find it at any of the independents I tried) or Powell's in the US.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Initiation" by Helen Pizzey


My brother hadn’t noticed the adder approaching, slithering along the stone ledge of the cattle trough, when he threw me in. Laughing he left me drowning, fighting water and snake. On the day I started convent school, I stood shivering in grey serge and swamped in a felt hat I wished would float right off my head. We learned about evil and baptism, and it came as no great surprise to hear that a snake would always be out to get me.

Helen Pizzey

"Initiation" last appeared in Leaf Writers' Magazine 2 (Autumn 2010). Pizzey is Assistant Editor at PURBECK! magazine and appears in the anthology, This Line Is Not for Turning: Contemporary British Prose Poetry (ed. Jane Monson, Cinnamon, 2011), among other journals and anthologies in the UK and US. She received her MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University in 2005. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Joke" by Patricia Ann McNair

I'm delighted that our first Sudden Prose Reprint is Patricia Ann McNair's powerful short-short story, "The Joke." Comments encouraged!


“So you don’t mind a little dirty joke, huh?”
            I shook my head. What’d he think I was, some kid? Fifteen and out there way after dark—on my own I could’ve been. So when the old guy with the tiny scrubbed hands, small as a boy’s, only veiny and bluish, offered me a lift, I thought, sure, a place to sit for a while. “Nice ride,” I said. This big polished four-door with the seats wrapped in plastic that smelled like adhesive tape, like a family car.
            He tapped his nails, white moon slivers, on the steering wheel, switched off the engine and began to speak real low, his head tilted toward mine. I had to lean in to hear him, had to strain to listen as he spoke just above a whisper about a stream of things like women getting there clothes ripped off by accident, and men accidentally putting their cocks where they didn’t belong and hookers and blow jobs and butt fucks. I sort of laughed now and then, I wasn’t getting it, but I acted like I did. You know. And by the time I got that it wasn’t a joke, it was just dirty, it was too late because I was already there, already said I didn’t mind, I would listen. And I didn’t know how to stop listening, how to get him to shut up for chrissakes, shut up, shut the fuck up, and the smell of that car, that plastic, that awful thick glue smell made my stomach churn and my eyes smart, and I couldn’t turn away when he reached down and pulled his zipper, pulled his dick out, the small wrinkled gray thing that he yanked on until it bloated up too big and purple for his little boy hands, clublike and purple, larger than it should have been he was such a little guy—I could take him, he was so little—and when he whispered he wanted me to touch it, what else could I do? I was already there, already said I didn’t mind, already laughed, damnit—so he took one of my hands and put it around the thick pole which was sticky and felt squirmy and loose, and he groaned and said Show me your tits, and I figured what the hell. We’d come this far, not like I could say No, I don’t want to do this, because I’d already started doing it and what could I do to stop this from moving forward now, stop it and make it go back? And besides, it was better to use my hands to lift my shirt than to touch him, thank God I’d worn a bra, that was all he’d get to see. But when I pulled up the tank top it was like I was peeling my own skin, it hurt damnit, it hurt for no reason I could figure out. So I yanked it up fast like you strip off a Band-Aid, and with the shirt in front of my face at least I didn’t have to see him, to see it for a while. And behind the shirt I felt my eyes burn and fill, felt the tears roll down my face, but no sound, not from me. And then I asked him not to touch me, whispered it quiet like a prayer, but it didn’t matter what I said, he didn’t care, didn’t want to touch me because he was touching himself and moaning and coming into his own dry hands and I pulled down my shirt just in time to see the thing jerk and squirt and I reached behind myself for the door handle and nearly fell out of the car but caught my footing in time to back away, step away from the car which he started and took off in, wheels spitting gravel, leaving me at the side of the road. Crying and—that son of a bitch—alone all over again.

This short-short story appears in Patricia Ann McNair's first short fiction collection, The Temple of Air (Elephant Rock, 2011) and can be bought in the US from Powell's and in the UK from Foyle's. You can learn more about the author and her work here at her website.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

And the 2012 Bath Spa University Flash Fiction Prize goes to

Annie Campbell and Georgia Seabrook, co-winners in both writing excellent flash fictions. Here's hoping this encourages them to continue writing in the form!