THE PROSE POEMS  

PAGE 1 PROSE POEMS BY: Chad Hanson,  Kevin Acers,  Genevieve Fitzgerald,  Anthony WarnkeBen Nardolilli, Howie Good, F. Daniel Rzicznek, Annie Raskin,  Sarah White,  Lydia Matheny

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Chad Hanson

Godfather of Soul

Jean left him at the new cabin for twenty days. The place needed repair. He didn’t plan well, though. He brought the right tools, not enough food. The prior owner left a boom-box but he could not find a radio station. On day three, he ran across a compact disk. The songs were by James Brown. He listened to the Godfather, nonstop, for sixteen days and nights. His personality started to bend. Papa don’t take no mess. He shouted, Get up offa that thang!He started to imagine that James Brown turned himself into James Brown through the force of his own will. Until then, he assumed that you were simply born yourself. He didn’t know that you could choose an identity. After the third week, Jean drove up to check on her husband. She felt the change before she made it to the top of the driveway.

 

Kevin Acers

With a Shudder and a Cluck

A startled looking hen sitting in the cold mud makes me wonder for a moment who I am, how my predicament compares, and whether I do not wear an equally startled expression much of the time. The encounter also evokes some compassionate thoughts, although not necessarily optimistic ones, about the eventual fate of that chicken. By eventual, I mean real soon. I hurry past with a shudder and a cluck.

 

 

Anthony Warnke

April 27, 9:23

When I was born a baby, I was born alone. Nurse, father, unwombed oxygen brushed my blood-colored hair. Doctor, mother, epidural buzz clung to my cartilage like smoke. I had no one to talk to, really, except a thumb, which I used to plug my feeder up. Past my twelfth hour, I turned to my fellow babies in a row, but they were so angry about everything. I asked one, whose heart beat through her head, what time she’d arrived, did she agree it was too warm in here, was she excited to be alive, etc. She howled at the lamps. She was hard to get to know. I asked another, who flickered yellow, if he missed home, the hose meals, the Mozart, the living your potential in a bath, is that why he couldn’t quit barking. At the last sound of my voice, he burst the stars on our blankets into tears. It must have been nearly night, for I was getting delirious. I had no other neighbors, save cheeping boxes, so I balanced carefully on the edge of my incubator and pled to the apeish faces behind the wall of glass. The more I reasoned, the fewer fathers listened. I turned back to my thumb. Achy and shriveled, it tucked itself into my hand. I laid back down and tried to sing to myself. And that’s when I, too, couldn’t stop crying.

 

 

Ben Nardolilli

Cross-eyed Categories

In the world of Venn Diagrams the best place is to be in the middle, in between the collapsed rings of two separate spheres. You will seem to see better that way and your networking capabilities will be sublime. If you cannot straddle two worlds (or three), at least be in the middle of one circle, perfectly equal distance to any boundary. It will give the sensation of being in the center of a universe, however small. Like Atlas, you will help uphold the very definition, the strongest spoke around. Avoid existing on a periphery that cannot blend with another. You can barely see your own limited horizons in such places.

 

 

TWO by Genevieve Fitzgerald

Betrothed


Even if I am an ugly duckling, I have taken to wearing the necklace you gave me.  It may look silly against my feathers, costume cut glass, and not really sapphire stones set like blue grapes in a gold vine pattern. But you wanted me to have it, you blue headed unicorn no one else thinks can be real. And though you frightened me at first, I have come now to want for us to be more than just dreaming on my part.

 

One Foot on Each Side

It happened one morning when I was making coffee, about six months after Dave died. I don’t normally drink coffee, but he did and that morning I took from the shelf his copper Egyptian coffee pot and I made the sludge he used to drink, thick so you could stand a spoon in it, and then I stood a spoon in it, just like he did the day my sister asked if you could really stand a spoon in it or if that was ‘just a saying, you know,’ since she’s always asking things like that; and Dave laughed and got out a demitasse spoon, one of the ones he’d bought for the purpose of stirring his sludge; and the steam, so musky, as it overwhelmed me that day, overwhelmed me again; and his laugh was sure and knowing and the spoon stood up in the sludge, and I knew that Dave knew I was standing his spoon in his coffee, and in a moment he’d sit at the table with me and nod in agreement that I should drink the stuff down.

 

- Genevieve Fitzgerald

 

Annie Raskin

All That's Left

The brother sits in the wheelbarrow on a pile of leaves. From this long distance of time and space she leans forward, about to pull him and the leaves in the heavy wooden wheelbarrow, his small face sun-polished with delight both real and rare for this sweet, scared, shy, inarticulate three year old born with lousy wiring. What is lost in the margins forever hovers in the void. A lens opens for a split second, and attends only light, never nuance. Light let in by the swiftly clicking shutter burns its stolen image on the retina; now a black & white image encased in glass and metal sits on the desk in her study. Six decades away from that early autumn day, this image, despite its mute margins, evokes her serenity in this place, in this mother place which claimed and comforted her, evidenced by the small, clear, calm smile on her face, in her ownership of her eight year old body, in the familiar line of her still strong, still slender wrist, in her capable hand reaching to grasp one thick wooden handle of that barrow readying to pull her brother along with the leaves, readying to amuse him. A photograph is as fiction; the story it tells is but the story we wish to read. These two were there on that day with the unknown photographer who aimed, snapped and shot; all that's left is loose ends; all that's left is inscrutable image; all that's left is the photograph.

 

THREE by Howie Good

Palette

1

Everyone says I should get a new attitude. Or shoot myself. Oh, to walk through empty white rooms, eavesdropping on painful memories being described in hushed tones.

 

2

It’s officially fall, and if I concentrated harder, I’d hear the yellow taxi hitting the trees head-on.

 

3

The red came off on my hands. Please see me if you think it might be yours.

 

Splendid Bankruptcies

So what if the ATM refuses to recognize me? I’ve often changed my world view halfway through a sentence. A pair of depressing sneakers hangs from the power line. If I begin to run, a dog objects. It can be hard sometimes to distinguish sunset from the flaming trombones of the deranged. Complex systems break in complex ways. The woman at the counter, still young but not actually pretty, has the same name as a French province, according to her name tag, and silver ribbons of artificial light tangled in her hair.

 

Crematorium

I turn down the alley behind the empty strip mall. Angels in dark glasses sit along the edge of the loading dock, swinging their pale legs and waiting. The fruit they tried lies discarded on the ground. I taste rather than smell smoke. The most mysterious thing is a fact clearly stated. I’ll be found — perhaps not until years later — wandering the streets wearing only one shoe.

 

- Howie Good

 

F. Daniel Rzicznek


Tiny red and gold tent on the massive summer mountain: our home that we’ve yet to set foot in. They all stand in a circle — the women throwing their heads back and laughing in the headlight-lit night while the men light their boots on fire and try to dance. Four hundred yards downstream we watched as one deer then another flushed ducks and gulls, crossing to the wooded island. Only the herons and egrets wouldn’t budge. Death may be no more than a low spot in the road. If so, wisdom is an ounce of whiskey at noon. Once a year, before sleep in late August, I go back to nausea in darkness, then stars quivering above cattail roots, and finally black birds cutting up orange-pink sky. I peer deeper and deeper into my future. The film of the caribou clambering with head down over the tumbling stream made him look like a divining rod gone berserk, no longer in the hands of any master. Scent of basil where sunlight had rested on the shoulders of the dead — the ferry is never on time.

 

Lydia Matheny

Time Again

My mother did not die. She lay awake in her final days, and when her voice began to fade, she whispered it in my ear. She would fathom the streams in the form of a fish, a silver-backed swimmer in the seams of the seas. She would turn into a bird and wander the sky’s whites and blues and blistering oranges on the brim of dawn. And later, transforming into a tree, she would feed on sunlight and soil until her limbs burst into hundreds of fragile purple-petalled offspring. And someday, not soon, she would once again be a child.

 

Sarah White

For Sale: Edwardian Music Box

Lift the mahogany lid of this six-bell cylinder box. Admire its lush décor — enamel flowers on silvery stems, metal butterflies poised to strike the bells, bells tempered to accompany the tunes, tunes affixed to the surface of the brazen drum which currently refuses to turn due to a malfunction in the winding gear, but we promise to repair it as soon as a buyer is found. It might be you! The cylinder is sound. There are no broken teeth. When, once again, the drum turns, the teeth will pluck the steely tines, the songs will play, and everything will come back to you — The Woodland Kiss, The Country Dance, The Love Note, The Flight, The Torn Curtain, The Last Troubadour.

 
© 2013 The Prose-Poem Project
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