A Prose Poem by Matthew Dettmer

I’m visiting the suburbs it’s twenty-five minutes from my apartment to tom’s house along the lake the drive was stunning changing leaves the lake bright blue under the sky I drove slurping coffee from a mug balancing it against the turns on and off the highway now

we’re outside in the backyard trapping and passing a junior sized soccer ball my friend tom who met me and his now-wife tracy in college a hundred years ago they got married and raise two kids who aren’t as interested in the ball the younger one

timmy has trouble sitting still during zoom preschool now he’s hurtling across the yard while tom and I talk the election with resignation and fantasy football resignedly I can feel the moist earth under my feet and the sweat turning the underarms of my shirt darker black and then

timmy starts carrying a football while he lurches over the lawn his dad and I joke how he’s a north south runner needs to improve his lateral quickness at one point he stops and holds the ball out like he wants it thrown to him but

timmy doesn’t understand why we can’t play catch this year even though it’s such a great afternoon for it October in America the thick backyard grass the sky stretched out blue the trees everywhere turning green to gold and gold to bare. 

Matthew Dettmer is a physician, writer, and musician in Cleveland, OH. His work has been previously published in the Hybrid Harpy Review and in Neighborhood Voices, a literary anthology presented by Literary Cleveland.  Check out his band The Dole at https://thedole.bandcamp.com.

A Prose Poem by d w Stojek

We sat, my Grandmother, myself, with my Mother between, quietly in the waiting room of the doctor’s practice.  I cannot remember, despite my best attempts, as to which of us was the patient to be. I was four perhaps, five years of age and suffered frequent bouts of a savaging tonsilitis: stifling my voice, running my throat with that unique crimson of infection reminiscent of a depiction of a martian landscape in an illustrated beginner’s guide to astronomy. My mother, meanwhile, endured a rather playful strain of ebola, while my grandmother absorbed the impact and consequence of a day’s hiccoughs and a variable astigmatism. That said, I believe it safe to hazard that I was the subject of the visit…

The windows close-curtained, affording some peace to the infirm, who only sour in the sun; the institutionally pragmatic slate grey furniture and carpet, coupled with strips of walnut veneer lining the walls devoured the amber nebula of the corner table lamp; the room arrested in Shadow…

Despite which, I was sifting through the collection of boarded books and periodicals to read in that ill light. Issues of” International Topographic” were stratified in undisturbed archeological anticipation; a book of rhyme, and “A Beginner’s Book of Astronomy“ cluttered the low table. Choosing something, I remember words made of letters printed at the size of dimes, elegantly lain across the glossy pages but no memory as to the meaning or to the relation they had to the octopus, brilliant, in his top hat and dancing shoes as the hippopotamus, on the opposing page, searched the beach for clues.

The door opened, coming with it: the stunning sun; adapting, one saw the race of red and orange leaves tumbling on the walk was able to taste the crisp of autumn on the in-blown breeze as this crack was sealed behind the silhouetted figure entering. I looked quickly, seeing only an overcoat and hat positioning itself in conversation with the attending nurse, nothing could be heard. Rejected: I returned to my pages. The lamp having been moved closer to me by my Mother in order to stave or retard the inevitable blindness she was assured would strike; offering the Overcoat a pocket of that newly annexed dark. I glanced upwards, struggling to interpret suggestion and shade; my eyes not yet having adjusted, then retreating, so as not to be caught. The cycle repeating, my vision: straining, then acclimating till I could see his face…and what I could not comprehend; it was not horror or revulsion: it was all fluster and confusion. I was fixated: imagining, rather insisting, upon a nose to form upon his face, only for it to fade along the Prospect.

d w Stojek is a poet, photographer and general nuisance to those within earshot. He is eagerly awaiting the day when ‘Build-a-Bear’ re-opens as a series of genetic labs that will enliven the blighted strip malls of Suburbia.

A Prose Poem by Bryan Barks

As we walk to dinner, you and I are reflecting on what an awful year it has been.

“But at least we got married this year!” you say. No, my love. That was last year.

But yes, let’s just say we got married this year. Let’s push the rest away and say we’re getting married next year and the next. Let’s hoard the anticipation and the afterglow. Let’s keep stacking rings until we can’t see our fingernails, until the tiny circles start falling to our feet.

Let’s say we’re getting married tomorrow and on every bleak Monday morning. On the bathmat in winter, shivering in a white towel. In the kitchen amid the shards of the cup you just broke, let’s say our vows.

In the hospital, we get married every day at 4 p.m. Your name in the visiting log is the signature on our marriage certificate. A crisp commitment, the i’s in your name buoyant and devoted. Each kiss goodbye is a mutual promise to stay.

There is no perfect place. No perfect person, no perfect year or words or season.

The lump in my throat is a church; we are standing inside it. My hand on your shoulder is a vow. Our patio in snow an altar. Every bite you feed me with your hands is cake.

So no need to wear white, no need to light sparklers to celebrate this terrible year or its grand exit. Just the two of us by the fire, hoping for better.

Bryan Barks is a writer and advocate living the Washington, DC area.

A Prose Poem by Ace Boggess

While I lay in bed, reading a novel by Hesse, I said to my then-wife, “I don’t think Burroughs is my favorite writer anymore.” The next morning, I read in the paper that he died. I know: coincidence, not serendipity, interconnectedness, butterflies flapping their wings in the Amazon. Reasoning couldn’t dislodge the fantasy I’d killed him by disloyalty as I targeted my whisper rifle, shushing on both ends. I devalued his swirls of literary mayhem, joining a serenity movement in long-dead Hesse’s east/west metaphysics. I had met the Buddha on the road & killed Burroughs. Or maybe you did, Reader. Didn’t you give up on him, too? Didn’t he mentor you on loosing chaos before you left his words behind? You murdered him—not as dramatically as I, & I doubt you remember that bloody choice. Distracted, you left the door open, & he wandered out into traffic, another gray-eyed, wizened, lusty hound.

Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry, including MisadventureUltra Deep Field, and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.