PAGE 2 PROSE POEMS BY:  Zulma Ortiz-Fuentes,  Ken Sparling, Stephen Nelson,  Mercedes Lawry, M. J. Iuppa, Cherie Hunter Day, Kim Loomis-Bennett, CJ Giroux, Joseph E. Lerner, Melissa Seitz, Daniel M. Shapiro

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Zulma Ortiz-Fuentes

Small Stories

Walking home the dark mountains of Puerto Rico are filled with cucos. My aunt sings a bolero, “Perfume de Gardenias,” to keep them away. Filling a burlap bag with just-picked sun-warmed oranges, sticky sweet juice dribbles down my arms. In the inclusion classroom I want to be a Margaret, but Texans won’t cooperate. My sweet dog Inky, stays behind; Germany isn’t for him. Vietnam happens, I get stung by bees for picking a guava, my skin and hair like the tropics, my father returns with a broken mind. Colorado is cold and white, yet my best friend is black. A miscarriage in the midst of Illinois; a river of blood stains the pristine snowy cemetery. A car ride with boys earns me a slap in the face from my abuela; atrevida she hisses.

Ken Sparling

Walking Around the Moon

When he gets outside, he hears beyond the stained glass. Beyond the place where stained glass can strain your capacity to hear. He can hear it. There is a place beyond where he can no longer hear.

It might have been quite a day that day. It might have been a total rescue mission.

A boy is crying about the juice box he left in his grandpa’s car.

A door is shutting. Doors shutting in the night wake me up. At seven thirty in the morning, the garbage men come. They come to take things back. The older boy walks around the room crying. I am walking around the moon, Mommy, he says. I am walking around the moon.

Melissa Seitz

Spring Thaw


A syncopated rhythm begins: thwack-thwack-thwack-thwack from my running shoes on the downbeat and the subtle rumbles from a reckless morning sky on the upbeat. Along the country road, the spring thaw reveals an empty whiskey bottle face down; a ditched rubber tire waiting for the others; a red bandanna twitching as if being strangled by the wind; and a possum’s body at the side of the road — its tail a question mark. Lightning slices the sky in half as the whir-whir-whir-whir of my body retraces the last two miles. I imagine myself on the wings of a hummingbird as I race for home. You, surprised by my quick return, had not yet heard the thunder.


Rain washes away the remaining snow as eaves troughs drip-drip-drip-drip-drip-drip an endless waltz around the house. The spring thaw reveals a piece of the dead rabbit we discovered months ago, headless, splayed upon the white lawn of snow, and the tell-tale feathers of a killer owl our only clue. We had watched the rabbit fatten itself all winter long, slipping under the bird feeders, supping on seeds chickadees and cardinals discarded. We, surprised by the rabbit’s demise, had not heard it fight for its life.


In the woods, bulbs of trumpet daffodils wait in silence.

TWO by Cherie Hunter Day


The tide has two chances a day to erase distances. The bare flats are a couple of words on a postcard in your handwriting. And the flood is a whole volume excerpted from shimmering waves. There are passages like the time we walked to Bar Island. A spring tide made it possible to walk all the way out on the sandbar to two grass-covered outcroppings in the middle of the bay. The silky black mud sucked at our boots. Fish bones washed ashore on the first island were cleaned of all scent except salt. The quiet tide was already returning when the moon over your left shoulder came up whole.



In this city birds mimic the sound of subway cars pulling into the station — metal on metal. Their songs echo through the tile canyons underground. It’s Tuesday afternoon and a man is tuning his cello on the platform while passengers wait for the westbound train. The crowd stands a little ways away from the musician asking for tips. House sparrows flit in and out of the duct work over the tracks. There’s a sub-audible thump as automatic doors open at street level beyond the steep stairwell and a unit of measure for the time it takes the scent of rain to reach you.


- Cherie Hunter Day

M. J. Iuppa


A bare chested man, with long dirty blonde hair parted down

the center, sits on the top step leading into the town hall.

Neatly tucked under his armpit is his black & white border

collie. The dog needs a license. The man lost his in an incident

outside the tattoo parlor. The cop was waiting for him. He couldn’t

deny the dog was his — her portrait freshly inked over his heart.



First published in Golden Sparrow Review


TWO by Kim Loomis-Bennett


A room full of tired roses attracted a spider. A woman died in the next room, spider venom spreading through her veins. The spider ate its mate and populated the room full of tired roses with her own kind. A woman died in the next room, spider venom spinning through her veins. In the room full of vases upon vases of tired roses, a spider spun a web in an open coffin. A woman woke up in the next room, venomous thoughts spinning through her mind. A spider scrawled across the floor into the room with a sleeping woman. The spider spun a web over her eyes so that when the woman awoke from a dream of lying in a coffin, her tears caught in the web like precious jewels. The spider sipped her tears, a delicate gesture of esteem.



A novelist writing dark things, easily dark words and dark scenes looked around his fictional world and realized he must light a candle so that he could watch himself writing dark things — watch his hand writing dark words. He lit a candle and still couldn’t see himself. He placed a mirror on the wall above his writing desk, his writing desk where he wrote easily of dark things, using dark words. A novelist stole peeks at himself while he wrote dark words, easily dark things — his smile was the darkest of all. This was too dark to be liked — his smile being easily the darkest thing of all. A novelist blew out the candle on his desk as he looked into the mirror above his desk. The last worried puff of light fell into the pupil of his eyes, behind which lived dark things made of dark words made of dark smiles.


- Kim Loomis-Bennett

Daniel M. Shapiro

Fred Astaire Joins The Black Eyed Peas for an Encore, Staples Center, Los Angeles, 10/11/09

The sampled beats of “The Funky Drummer” explode, grafted onto Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners.” Taboo and exit stage right, high-fiving Astaire, who awaits his turn to sing. Auto-Tuned, he woefully serenades Fergie and, who portray lovers we hate in a jerky lowbrow grind. Astaire, clad in a wetsuit with track lights, enters on Ask him to sit this one out, taps on the shoulder, cuts in. The music stops violently. Astaire tears off Fergie’s wetsuit with track lights as lasers reveal a lavender evening dress. She returns the strip; Astaire now wears a tuxedo with lavender tie. Music begins again, Auto-Tune removed, string orchestra added. Pink neon flashes an Art Deco number: 1938. Managing to match Astaire, Fergie becomes a backward, high-heeled legend.

Mercedes Lawry

Say the Meaning, Say It

Sentence of light and bones. The essence unpeeled. Story and echo. How a word does stumble into the darkness and what sticks, gathers, reveals, borrows. Take meaning and dress it up silky and let the world have at it – brutal cold rain, razor winds and such. After we’re done saying life, trying to say and explain, de-mystify, justify, after the ruckus has settled, all might collect in the center of the pool with only the frail lapping of water that has nowhere to go, this little mock sea coddled by mud and thin weeds.


TWO by Stephen Nelson

Seed Space

After considering the day's events, I returned to the beginning, where the seed in my palm became unbroken strands of conversation. My girlfriend burst from tiny raindrops on to a flat, dry bed. She spoke backwards, reminding me of techniques of growth acceleration for depleted rainforests. Many of us had access to a single source field, which ran from my yard like waves of wheat. Still only three of us returned from the flood, sick and weedy after drowning.



There comes a time when books yellow and dry and crumble into dust. Fortunately there's also a living stone to eat. 

One year we came together on a beach to greet the whole. It synchronised here and there. Some saw pebbles, some saw sand, but mostly we shared a viola tone. My girlfriend brought me home with a mournful thought on her tongue. The ability to remove shadows followed me.


- Stephen Nelson


TWO by CJ Giroux

Evening Swim, Midsummer

Whitecaps lift, fall, float like lace, threads, loops beckoning. I dive; seek solace at the soft bottom; push through the gray-green layers of bending light. Somersaulting, I surface into peak, slope, gully; move between wind, silence, warmth, welcome. Like pearls unstrung, a necklace undone, droplets arc up, out, above the surface, down. Horizon bound, I am pulled ever inland, away from my starting point, but always closer to the indifferent shore, its tumbling sands.


Storm Front

Pillowcases bulge like open-mouthed bottom feeders scaling an aquarium’s slick sides. Fitted sheets fill with air; puckered edges form pockets for billowing storm clouds and then collapse on themselves, inhale, exhale, sigh. With the laundry basket under my arm gaping like a giant O, I race towards the swaying rope where ants balance like tightrope walkers. They clamor over clothespins towards the birch tree, to burrow among shadows, thigh-thick trunks. Sirens fill yellowing skies.

- CJ Giroux


TWO by Joseph E. Lerner


A young woman boards the bus, sits beside me, and unfolds a huge map, above which tiny kestrels reel and glide. I too feel about to fly, staring into miniature chasms, icebergs, cities, fjords. "Are you lost?" I ask. "No. Are you?" she replies, then stands as an old man points his walker askant at us. My new seatmate retrieves a board-game that's also a map, a grid warped like space-time with radiant debris, dead stars, black holes. "Ready?" he asks, flourishing his king. I sigh as the woman exits the bus, then slide my own king onto the board.



He meant to take a powder, another run at it, despite “it” not looking so good. Snow blinded, clutching one pole (the other one missing, as well as one glove, one boot, one ski), he clung to the precipice, swaying on one leg. In the distance Sally (lovely Sally!) leaped and flapped, her whole body a semaphore—was she trying to tell him something or just making fun of him? Then Quizno flashed by, tall and dashing, followed by Sam, Rick, and Schlomo, handsome all, laying down a single trail of powder like a bright zigzaggy arrow angling toward oblivion.

- Joseph E. Lerner

© 2013 The Prose-Poem Project