Prose Poetry / Flash Fiction

Three White Dogs

Theodore Worozbyt

From our parlor, the living room, the cloud there seemed to be, across the angle, a colorful snake silently sine-waved across the woven symbols of the Iranian carpet. The white dog spotted with spilled coffee would be poisoned by its fangs if it had fangs. But I was not convinced. While the undulance and pumpkin orange diamonds rowed along its spine suggested a viper I thought too that I was seeing yellow and red like a king’s ambulance through the grass. Something burst on the asphalt. I stopped beside the copper deep freezer to fill it with thin oblongs from bags. An uneaten roasted turkey floated in a five gallon bucket when I opened it but had no smell. I thought how old it was, how beige. The snake became a calico kitten over and over that I would capture with a bucket. Either way was in the road up the hill. Crawling onto my chest the two white dogs were biting through each other’s lips and could not be pried open as their faces came to me.

I Stagger Toward the Future

Daniel Shapiro

When the West needed rediscovery, the powers sent a clown with a camera to compile the spotless carnage. This was before viral. Reptiles ate the strings off guitars. Townspeople wandered with eyes covered to block the awkward flips from color to black & white to color. The new colonists let their hair explode, posed with mannequins for selfies. This was before selfies. Reinvention meant erasure, but not of natives. This was after immigrants started pretending to be natives. The five men who appeared to be human formed a band that could stand alone in the desert, look good in grayscale. They had not thought past the moment, past the four minutes it would take to embed the psyches of whoever was left, whoever would dare to put on the greasepaint.

I Wish My Skin Could Stand the Pace

Daniel Shapiro

They paint some white women black, turn them into tables, paint other white women brown for telephones. They say they don’t see color. Synthesizers must be played with rubber gloves. They dress you in a hooded robe, show you what you think is a miniature of your city. Even the sculptures are fitted for sunglasses. The bases the space aliens attack in video games look like your city, your miniaturized city. What you think is the throb of bass of drums is the sound of your pixelated city falling square by square. They tell you it’s OK; your eyeglasses are just too thick. A man will give you a ride home on a Prophet-5, show you the lights of your darkened city. You’re sure these must be correct, these lights that compete with what can only be sleep.

Spoons in the Garden

Caroline Brooke Morrell

Yellow clouds lean into the coalfish. It’s midnight and the world moves alone in her daughter. I remember breath brushing up against the hours. It was my own breath and I let it touch me while you spoke. When I wake up before winter you cannot know. Trying to keep the robins on the table. Late showing, slow growth.

What I was thinking as I kissed you

Ryder Collins

There’ve been way too many mens trying the gates to my garden. Trying to force their ways in or crawl under the fence or jump over with a big pole or bribe my big dog. My dog knows only fur and fangs, respects only the biggest of dicks because he’s so patriarchal in his beastieness. Don’t stalk my garden smoking those spliffs you got from my ex, either. Leave the garden alone. Have you seen my house? Have you smelt my pillowcase or fondled my toilet handle yet? Just a jiggle. Come in, come in. I’ll aeropress you coffee the way I know you’ll like it. I’m feeling your taste buds, those mushroom-bumps raise in meeting. It’s night. I’m on the sidewalk outside my house. Under the streetlight & so obvious. I’m feeling sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami. Eeny meeny, I’m thinking. Miney mo. There’s racism all around me. In me. I’m thinking, The sidewalks are rough & cracked here. I’m thinking, There are so many tastes on this one tongue.

Cobb & Co.

Mark Young

We didn’t realize he might be somebody’s grandfather. The age of the char-à-banc had passed us by, & the advent of VistaVision, with its futile attempt to emulate the golden ratio, was something our teachers wouldn’t talk to us about. Dogs fought in the street & distracted us. The town grew dustier by the day. The Town Hall collapsed under the weight of woodworms & the local records all went with it. We coughed, & carried on as we always had.

Bone Yard

Melissa Kwasny

There is an earth below the body, white gleam in what is otherwise sage. You are unafraid, even curious at death now. Ravens pick through the catalogs. In their beaks, the red-brown stain. They hang, a glossy black in the greening house. Today, you walk right into the bone yard, recognizing first a shod hoof. The ribcage further on, the long neck spreading. What is strewn like feathers is hair caught in last year’s grass. You can almost make out an ear. A stillborn calf? A deer? But you, you say, have had enough now. You return to the farmer’s field of right and wrong. Widow’s weeds, or the heavy curtains that signal to the neighbors the house is closed: these are grief rules few of us practice any longer. Shall you say he was released? Did he step out of his mind, or was he flung? You have followed the path back to the river, where you cast river pebbles from shore, as if it were up to you to send him on. You watch them sink, which is, of course, thy will be done.

Swallowtail

Melissa Kwasny

A cloud passes over you and I forget the sun; it comes back and you revive, a state of wonder. Luminosity and complete collapse, tumbling down onto the path but usually able to get up again. You are like a shadow-being, one from the myth, which has slipped with the worms into their cocoons, sleep spun around you in gossamer but sturdy threads, but here you are, gesturing of flight again. Behaviorism, they say, posits that if we want to believe, we act like we believe and eventually we will. If we act ritualistic, we become ritual. If we act like we have all the time in the world. The creek in spring is gathering its chorus, a lot of by-hand shorthand and hourly touch. You say: we remember people by the feeling we once felt for them. Intermediate creatures, remnants left of wind, much is lost off the edge of our dreams. Like the swallowtail in February you pulled from the snow, still soaked in its supernatural beams. Insect tales: we make them up as we enter them, blue eyespots on the wings, blue continuous all around the outer margins. Lemon yellow and horizontal, and much like birds.

Petri Dish

Maura Stanton

It’s warm and cozy under the glass lid and all kinds of us are pulsing and squiggling around in here, little round cocci, skinny bacilli, and coiling spirilla, all of us trying to see who can multiply the fastest. We’re quick and lively and competitive. We ferment your yogurt and eat your waste products, but remember that we’re in this for the long haul, and some of us are hoping to get into your intestines or blood or onto your eyelashes so we can make our sort of organism immortal. Along the way you may have to die. But what’s the difference between a person and a colony of bacteria? Answer: we could live without you but you couldn’t live without us. So relax. We’re just doing what we have to do. Put us under the microscope and look down the eyepiece. Aren’t we lovely? Watch the bacilli waving like wands, banging into spirilla. Watch the spirilla twisting like miniature acrobats over and under them, knocking against the berry-shaped cocci. Watch the cocci rolling away, and bouncing back.

Our Lady of State Street

Jeanie Tomasko

So I go to this reading down at the bookstore and afterwards meet a friend of a friend. She’s unlocking her bike and I notice a shiny decal on the crossbar half under a long sticker. Holy, I say. It’s the green Virgin of Guadalupe, #4 out of 10. I have Her too, along with #s 2, 5, and 9. She wants more, she says. She got this one in a gumball machine in the Sauk City Mexican grocery. That’s where I’ve been going for my Virgins, but it’s too late, things have changed up a bit. And I tell her about the conversion to Minions and Skulls and Tattoos of Biker Chicks. She prefers Virgins, I can tell, as Our Lady shines, there on her crossbar, sparkling. Our Lady. Our Lady of State Street. Our Lady of Biker Chicks. Our Lady, bless her ride home.

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