August Picks very kindly provided by Parsonthru:

Pick of the month August 2017

Thanks for the opportunity to select Pick of the Month for August.  Each time I’ve been given the honour of doing this, the task becomes harder – the quality of work on the site goes on improving.  I’ve re-read and agonised over the candidates listed below.  In the end, though, TJW’s account of the world of combat and fatboy74’s wonderful encapsulation of a fleeting moment both surfaced for the reasons set out below.   I hope you’ll enjoy reading them again as much as I have.


TJW “This is my rifle”, 25 August 2017: A brave and controversial piece of writing that may not sit comfortably with everyone, but is written in an authentic and believable voice.  Moments like:

“… yet it was mostly local males who’d approach us, gestured for us to lower our sunglasses, expose our eyes.”

feel so true of this collision of circumstances.  In a very credible way, the piece brings an honest, up-close observation of behaviour in a world most of us will hopefully never inhabit.  In this way, the story is revelatory and determinedly written.  Not pretty, but it does its job and holds the reader.  A footnote might be “If you support war, this is what you’re supporting.”  Well done, TJW, for not flinching in the telling.  Well done on a well-written piece.  This is my recommendation for Pick of the Month.


ashb “Restart 4 – The Pool”, 4 August 2017: Intriguing and slightly surreal tale of a resort in a bubble.  The writing is unobtrusive and doesn’t distract.  The switch between action and observation is natural and well-timed.  Dialogue such as:

I like your watch.  Does it work?

Only in a meta kind of way.”

seems to reveal depth to the story, whose movement pans smoothly through the scene as our characters make their way to the pool.


rosaliekempthorne “Burning Bright”, 18 August 2017: Another story with a surreal feel – an enjoyable fantasy escape.  The setting is well described and is given life through the writing.  An ambiguity runs through the piece, raising the possibility of a metaphor, reinforced by the conversation with Lydia at the close of the tale and a final backward glance into the deep and darkening foliage.  An enjoyable and thoughtful read.


[Substitute: Elsie Katz “2002-05 My memories of working at a hostel for homeless men”, 11 August 2017:  I wanted to offer up a substitute to resolve the conflict of interest problem with having my own work included this month.  Out of the picks of the day for that week, I’ve chosen this piece, which describes with humanity and compassion days in the life of a homeless hostel – something the more fortunate of us are unlikely to experience.  I also felt the piece to be in keeping with the spirit and history of ABC Tales.



fatboy74 “Submerged”, 4 August 2017: An intimate poem, well-crafted in three balanced stanzas.  fatboy74 manages to invest so much into a fleeting moment, stopping time and carrying the reader to place and mood.  The poem closes as strongly as it opens, leaving the image and its open questions hanging in my mind.  I could read this one over and over.   It’s my recommendation for Pick of the Month.


Philip Sydney “Southend 1976”, 11 August 2017:  A moment of intimate recollection, skilfully and beautifully shared.  Philip Sydney effortlessly draws together totems of the era and personal memory to convey the moment.  Metaphors are tight and appropriate, becoming a metaphorical whole to bring us to her moment of consciousness.


Ewan “Counting”, 25 August 2017: The first stanza of this well researched and crafted poem could be the voice of Dylan Thomas or, perhaps, Betjeman.  It’s a great portal to a fascinating and hypnotic poem that seems written in the language of a lost time.  Ewan successfully fashions that thread into a captivating fabric.  I remember hearing this numbering scheme during my youth in North Yorkshire, but had to take a leap of faith after “Yan, Tyan, Tethera..”.   Ewan goes on to convince me, though, and that’s the trick.  Great poem.


seanmcnulty “The Treetops”, 18 August 2017: A gorgeous dream-like observation on life, delivered in lucid stream of consciousness.  This poem reminds me of the clarity of detail that Dalí manages to etch into his dreamscape canvasses.  Wonderful.