By Deirdre Kelly.

“Absent a pillar to die on, he uses his bedposts, rigging himself methodically to the modern-minimalist metal frame. Note, however, that he is loath of pain, can barely even tolerate the bite of the ropes.” 

Stormy Weather by Gabriele Luise Koch.

After bad days at work he pretends he’s St. Sebastian. Absent a pillar to die on, he uses his bedposts, rigging himself methodically to the modern-minimalist metal frame. Note, however, that he is loath of pain, can barely even tolerate the bite of the ropes. So there will be no gore at this martyrdom. In its place, a packet of fake blood between his teeth, penetrated with his canine to punctuate the piercing of imaginary arrows. The capes of pagan Rome ripple, men like mosaics lick hawk-feather fletchings. A cry for death. Another volley.

O—   Pierced: in stomach, in shoulder, in cheek. He shoots up a jet of blood, wine-dark, splattering on his torso, staining his sheets. Rapture: iris kissing skull: transformation of the world into iridescent veins. His chest heaves, seeking escape from supple flesh. Sebastian’s blood is cut with sugar and a spritz of lemon juice. He explores the pools of it forming around his gums with his tongue. Perfectly mixed, sharp and sweet. The Romans, assuming him dead, depart.


Absent a pillar to die on, arrows to die by, he practices his martyrdom as though from memory.


She releases the little brown songbird from her hands. It falls from the eleventh-story roof like a dead leaf. Another failed miracle. The moon is full and dovewhite tonight. God’s loving eye, open and quietly attentive. But she is still too weak to raise even a bird from the dead. The lightest of beasts, and His favourite. Her fingertips are black with citygrime. She rubs it into her only coat, but it remains. No matter how hard she tries, no matter how painfully she prays for benediction. When, exasperated, she rests her hand on the rooftop’s concrete barrier, the grime spreads across her palm. The ink of sin, preventing her from working her midnight miracles. Eating the light of the moon, draining the throats of doves. Somewhere in the downtown underbrush, a thrush is smeared over a car tire.


He has one window and he keeps a painting of Renaissance Venice over it. In the sitting room stands a replica of Apollo Belvedere, fleshed in concrete that asks to be called marble. He bought it on Craigslist. The backlight of an electric chandelier sends the light god’s shadow over the oval mirror. He is a glass captive, olive eyes beholding themselves, statuesque lips transfixed. 

         What do you want to say to him tonight?

He is to meet another man, another vessel for his crucifix fantasies. He bends his collar, manicuring it into the appearance of looseness and spontaneity. His hand hovers, weighing whether to undo the second button from the top. Under the darkness of concrete Apollo, the border between his body and the back wall begins to blur. His face translated, nothing but eyes and shadows.

What do you want

Revealing by removal.

He hears a knock at the door, and steps out of god’s shadow to answer.


She feels the building rumbling under her and can only look at her hands. That the old abandoned Babel-esque skeleton would go down one day did not surprise her. In truth, she had expected that it would fall on a night such as this. One that God watched closely. As she feels herself being pulled off of her feet, she asks nothing of him. He remains beyond question. Even as he sends death into her veins. Her coat flutters, she is falling into the sky. Her heart beats out of her chest, yearning to unite with the godhead—

In the sky hangs the moon, a black bird flying in front of it: suspended in an infinite moment.


He met James on a website and learned that he dreams of starting a reindeer shelter in Alaska. He has a ginger mustache and wears thin spectacles and seems sweet yet rather complex. James would be his next confessor, his priest behind the wall, his Longinus, but as he answers the door the whole earth turns asunder.

And he had such high hopes for salvation this time around.

The asphalt is torn like burning skin, the power lines thrash, they embrace with the intimacy of people who know each other. Two bodies tossed like detritus into the air. Head straining upward, he realizes they are ascending together—on their first date, no less. James is screaming, though in the roar of the mutilated city it sounds like plainsong. The man who calls himself Sebastian on dating sites dreams the golden pillars that might frame a painting of his ecstasy.

From the corner of his vision, his house is on fire. The mirror must be lying in smithereens by now. And yet, as the whole city falls up to Heaven, he and James remain unbroken. His skin is soft, but ribbed with good coarse hair. Were he not unconscious from shock, pseudo-Sebastian would have let him know. As he fell through the night and saw the wet red pulsing of the firmament, the boundary of the world, the mount of joy, that loquacious itch in his heart remained. So, with eyes open, he made himself known.

         Dear God, if I may ask: have I skipped martyrdom and gone straight to divinity?


She meets the bleeding walls of God like a grandmother. The familiar smell of pennies, the beating of a voiceless chorus. Red droplets fall as angels. She closes her eyes, bites her tongue. Trying to sever the thinking parts of herself. He must be known without knowing. He must be loved without feeling. God tremors, blood pulses. She is painted, drowned; the crimson of her coat becomes as her flesh. She will not open her eyes to see it, but the oily corruption of the city below has been washed from her hands. Anointed in blood, she is all-pure, naked and ravaged. Falling like a thrush from a skyscraper into the womb of God, caressed by eternity. Her last reflection, before she goes into the warm darkness:

         I believed untruth. The moon is not the eye of God. God has no eyes at all.


The author picks themself up from a nasty fall. A strange pricking pain abides in their heart—as though two tiny desires had been unseated in their aorta, and pierced them from within.

The Blood Pudding – August 1, 2023

Deirdre Kelly is a student and they are a neophyte of prose, and have yet to learn its rituals. This is their first publication.


Artwork: Gabriele Luise Koch is a German artist whose work focuses on human representation with all its many facets. Her visual worlds are radically modern and timeless at the same moment
People are reduced to their essential core and appear iconic – the essence of a person becomes visible and tangible. You can find her work here.