Prose Poetry / Flash Fiction

The Return of Odysseus

Eric Pankey

To gather the evening’s cool, the shutters are left open. All at once the cicadas, dumbstruck, cease. She turns toward the shore, senses a squall in the offing. In anticipation of a kiss, she swallows; touches her tongue to her lips. The moon sheds light as transparent as a threadbare dress.

Relax

Brad Rose

The sign in the window says Ladies dresses 70% off. Can’t be sure whether that’s an invitation or a warning. Like God, the cause of the incident is still under investigation.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story so many times, you can’t remember what it’s about. Administratively speaking, you’d do the same, if I were in your shoes. With the deluxe nightmare, it comes at no extra cost, excluding normal wear and tear.

I may look like I’m hiding in a drowning, but I’ve learned you can have an excellent memory, if you don’t spend all your time trying to forget. It’s as easy as an electrocution in standing water.

It’s such a beautiful evening tonight, don’t you think? The breeze, cool and slow, your eyes, dark dead stars. With my hand in yours, I feel relaxed as an ax lounging in blue sequined moonlight. The throat of the moon pulled out like a drawer.

from The Introvert’s Guide to Dreams

Brian Clifton

Luckily, you’ve separated a calf from its herd. It darts into the woods. You follow, your entire family at your heels. Together, your panting fills the forest with moist and rhythmic movement. If you sense anything, it’s that nature doesn’t always want you inside it. But there you are, gnawing through nature’s ribcage. You drag the calf from the woods into the light. It is not alive; a pulse remains in your jaws.

You stare at the river from the bridge that spans it. Your chin rests on the metal railing. You feel the bridge start to shake. When the wobbling becomes more pronounced, you hear the footsteps—marching toward you, fresh from the blackberry patch, an army of children, their mouths smeared into a constant opening.

J. Vernel Equinox

Mark Young

Returning to the Moon is the key to humanity’s long-term future in space. It is a vertical project, akin to climbing a ladder. Each step has its own name, its own symbol. The symbols are not visual representations of the naming words. Nor are the names descriptive of the activity of the step. There are no milestones, only spaces between the steps. Memory retains them thus, & can produce them to the mind whenever it has occasion to consider them. The first step is called “A control toolbox automatically loading for no reason.” The sea is its avatar.

Castor Mound

Jeff Streeby

St. Hubert’s Day
and through frost smoke rising from the creek
a waxing moon

Sunset. Light leaching from a freezing sky. A clear night falling. East, the cold glitter of evening stars, but west beyond the lake, twilight burning out in colors of honey, wood violets and blue vervain.

Right about now that 80 lb. super blanket I spotted last week will be working the castor set just upstream from the den. The chin stick will make him drop a front foot squarely between the jaws of a #4. Tomorrow morning, as sure as I’m standing here, he’ll be at the bottom of the drowning rod. If he’s as big as I think he is, he’ll go at least 70 inches. As long as he isn’t all scarred up, he’ll maybe rate “Select”.

Venus. The Milky Way. The order of things.

The Beaver Moon
At perigee,
biggest and brightest of a lifetime

Alcoholic

Kathleen Nalley

It was 1975. There was a jail cell and a death sentence, a liver barely functioning. There was a coffee filter and a metal tub of shoe polish. There was nothing but time and silence. Her father’s father played chemist, separating the alcohol molecules from the rest of the chemical goo. There was extraction, taste, and, finally, release. He descended from the Goths. They spoiled the land with their presence, their grease, their ilk. They were an underground fracture, a mineral seepage, kudzu and weeds, invasive. Their offspring, poison. Their semen, toxin in the water.

Shield

Tanja Bartel

If a bird visits your window sill and no one has died recently, it’s just a bird. Or the person in the window is an omen to the bird. No one can say. If hope is the thing with feathers, hopelessness is bald as an egg.

*

He throws sand at my window when we fight. One grain at a time. Ping, sting.

*

I’m afraid of the sight on the street from my window. There’s something on the glass and I don’t know if it’s on the outside or insidious. Could be my face. Streetlights have never saved anyone. Still, we walk under lights, flooded with trust.

Over My Dead Body

Brad Rose

I’m happening, now. I can’t stop myself. It’s always TV about food or food about TV. I’m employed, yes, but not gainfully. Maybe it’s better to start every conversation with a question? I’m a bomb-ass disco dancer, but I’m strictly non-confrontational. People tell me I remind them of a beginner’s trapeze mistake. Yes, my pants are on backwards, but I’m well-armed and extremely courteous. If I had a hammer, the other animals wouldn’t stand a chance. Except for the wolves. Those cowards took the 5th amendment. I’m feeling lucky as a lottery ticket, but that may be an overestimation of the DNA evidence. Ricky said that if you have the right attitude, every day is a holiday. Just think of it. To each his own. I’m going to get to the bottom of this, even if it kills me. Have you ever heard of such a thing? No, I didn’t think so. Get in the car. This is not a test.

Magical Materialism

Kathryn Kopple

I’m spread out in front of the television watching Nature in high definition. There’s something heroic and tragic about the swishing lizard, the way it risks a dune, the tiny sawing tail erasing its footprints. A blur. I should really call the occultist. Instead, I’ve spent all day collecting empty bottles to string up as makeshift wind chimes—now I’ve decided to consign them all to the trash. If I had a new prescription, I could search the Yellow Pages. Instead, it too goes into the bin. It’s not as if I don’t see the problem. Surely, I mean oculist. Surely, I don’t mean, a second kind of sight is what is needed here.

Toda Dia, Toda Noite

Catherine Moore

for Maria Teresa Horta

The dung beetle aids the earth with its slow collection of a fecal diet. The ladybird beetle unwittingly pollenates, in fertile droppings, as it chases whiteflies. Small offerings. Unmeditated. Like a cochineal gifting red dye or silk worms secreting thread. The banal. By remnant. In bits. Like some Maria at her small Portuguese window pushing pen onto paper, waiting for her marmalade to set.

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