The Faithful

by Sue Ann Connaughton

Boston, 1959: smack, crack
the whip of education in corridors
we get whacked for truancy
on an ordinary Friday in junior high

Saturday night
we travel in imitation gangs
with rock band names:
Dukes, Royals
for the girls, feminized corruptions:
Duchesses, Royalettes
we steal barrels that claim parking spots
prowl the project
chain-smoke Lucky Strikes
incinerate medals
and spin the bottle on flat tar roofs

Sunday morning, we attend Mass
the luckiest play altar boy.

Sue Ann Connaughton writes compact pieces from an eighteenth century, perukemaker’s house in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in White Cat Magazine; Oberon’s Law; Red Dirt Review; Unlikely 2.0; Linguistic Erosion; Bete Noire; Boston Literary Magazine; Twenty20 Journal; Subliminal Interiors; South Boston Literary Gazette; American Tanka; Modern English Tanka; Bete Noire; Every Day Poets and The Binnacle Seventh and Eighth International Ultra-Short Competition anthologies.

We’ve previously published your compressed fiction. How is the compressed poem both like and unlike the compressed prose piece?


My process for developing “The Faithful” and “Myopia” was the same. Shards of memory inspired both. From those fragments, I built each piece inductively, by adding words, concepts, and images, one by one in multiple drafts, each draft a bit longer than the previous one. I wrote both pieces in a sparse, straightforward style, without physical descriptions of characters, or obscure metaphors. Both cover a period of time longer than an instant, and my goal for both was identical: to communicate quickly, to capture readers, immediately.


“The Faithful” represents my adolescent years in Boston. My friends and I participated in everything described in the poem, except removing trash barrels from parking spots—nobody would have dared to do that. Because it’s a poem, I changed, deleted, and moved words around to balance cadence and the visual and auditory length of lines. To maintain compression, I adopted a modified list format to punch out activities and recreate a time and place.

In “Myopia,” I relied upon personal items or experience for background knowledge—my collection of quilt books; an exhibit of Amish Quilts with rigid geometric designs, bold color combinations, and exquisite workmanship; lectures at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—but the entire story is fictional. Because it’s prose, I fleshed it out with a storyline, some characterization, and dialogue. To maintain compression in this piece, I set up a sharp contrast between the two sections, by creating one focused scene in each section.


Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.” Congrats to Christopher Allen for being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes June 15, 2019; submit here.


05/23 • Nance Van Winckel (1 of 8)
05/30 • Nance Van Winckel (2 of 8)
06/05 • Rachel Rodman
06/06 • Nance Van Winckel (3 of 8)
06/10 • Erica Soon Olsen
06/12 • Beverly Jackson
06/13 • Nance Van Winckel (4 of 8)
06/17 • Avra Margariti
06/19 • Tommy Dean
06/20 • Nance Van Winckel (5 of 8)
06/24 • Stephen Reaugh
06/26 • Hege Lepri
06/27 • Nance Van Winckel (6 of 8)
07/01 • Danielle Hark
07/03 • Shirley Harshenin
07/04 • Nance Van Winckel (7 of 8)
07/08 • Matthew Barrett
07/10 • Andrew Stevens
07/11 • Nance Van Winckel (8 of 8)
07/15 • Peter Cherches
07/17 • Christopher Ryan
07/18 • Alex Durham
07/22 • Jessica Kehinde Ngo
07/24 • Jillian Pretzel
07/25 • Danielle Hark (1 of 6)
07/29 • Theresa Senato Edwards
07/31 • Stephanie Dickinson
08/01 • Danielle Hark (2 of 6)
08/05 • Callista Buchen
08/07 • Sara Elkamel
08/08 • Danielle Hark (3 of 6)
08/12 • Steven Ostrowski
08/14 • Karie Luidens
08/15 • Danielle Hark (4 of 6)
08/19 • Nick Ackerson
08/21 • Tyler Friend
08/22 • Danielle Hark (5 of 6)
08/26 • Suzanne Verrall
08/28 • Amelia Wright
08/29 • Danielle Hark (6 of 6)
09/05 • Richard Baldasty (1 of 4)
09/12 • Richard Baldasty (2 of 4)
09/19 • Richard Baldasty (3 of 4)
09/26 • Richard Baldasty (4 of 4)
12/23 • Tara Campbell