As a zealous professional

so pleased entering my apartment to see everything tight, still in place, no vandals, though the temperature was 89 degrees, apparently the maintenance crew had come in and set the thermostat at 80 to get the radiators going and then left while ignoring repairs to one of those single joy-stick faucets that takes an eight-dollar washer kit to repair, I know, because the three-dollar one I bought had the wrong kinds of springs and plugs and doodads, and none fit

 

Construction report

behind plaster we rip from the kitchen crumbling accounts of protracted death Floyd Collins 15 days 1925 age 36 Sand Cave Crystal Cave Kentucky as published in Boston, accounting inescapably cold mud and implacable rock when my own parents were first walking, yet this story my mother related as if she were on the carnival rides of its macabre vigil but now we find nothing holding this roof to the walls so much callous indifference riding on the blind arrogance a foolish turn, perchance, or just dumb luck when it comes to catastrophe of course, I remember living on the roof of a cavern down in muddy Indiana

Remarkably, it seems

what’s happened I no longer want to travel or climb the high mountains or is it just all the moves across the continent and back, my years on the road, my commute daily so stretched I’d contract into my nest and grounds for reading or revision, the places I’ve been and people I’ve known so many I want to know my own better . people come from all over the globe to see the landscape I call home

 

Seriously, Saul

stuffed in the official portrait how Happy it is Ground Hog’s Day already with its SOLAR SEASON running six weeks ahead of the calendar, thus the first half of spring overlaps I don’t care what some people say, a photocopied Christmas message still delivers So how was the Holy Land?

 

Merrily, Noelle

what news you published, contorting that instant, overcome with discomfort, a whirl as alert as any orchestra as that last confused and perplexing note confirms coyly your reckless addiction to lost causes, frankly in retrospect, it really didn’t take hours to start your obligating my leap without a job I’d subscribe to, oh, yes, the lifeblood we identify when you demand a reply, there simply isn’t enough time in two days for whatever prevented your return to the meetinghouse that weekend

In your mother’s dreams

brutal deep-freeze, heavy snowfall blanket, ice dams on roofs, melting drips through ceilings the hill resembled a resort ski condo development appropriate considering the city-operated slope on the other side of the expressway runs a single chair-lift I tour the surrounding woods on cross-country blades and observe bald eagles wintering along the Merrimack and recall the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, desert along the Yakima, views down over the Mississippi or Potomac or elsewhere in New England . spread your wings, then, in the thawing

 

When she phoned again

within some perspective, the past and future as an hour-and-a-half chat in part about her new love or lover, how could Squirrel not be pained trying to separate truth from layers of self-deception making him wonder if she’d ever seen him clearly as he was after all moving into other circles as one eligible male the single women had their eyes on yet what shock he realized later seeing how blinded he’d been, his heart solely on her, the news coming amid gossip of that “intimate little dinner that breaks things off” where he heard, fourth party from a third, “first, pour me something stiff” and salty as teardrops running for miles while most really do want nuts, no matter what they say

 

The first and most learned

a pattern of fern shadows cast by candles playing into a snug culmination rented theaters where hillsides tottered in the unspoken gamble of her slightest motion, some indication if anyone commenced singing against the walls and ceiling of an unclothed expanse of potential a warm hand broaches, scratching its initials on frosted windows and then a lower back arched for precision a cappella with the choir we clocked a blizzard of treetop squirrels far below whatever our season and there you have it . tenderly

 

Here comes a string of prose poems

The gap between well-crafted prose, especially fiction, drama, or comedy, and the art of poetry has long tempted  and then eluded writers. The definition of poetry as “slow prose” further complicates the issue, I suppose, although some see that end of the spectrum as limp verse – many elements make poetry, after all, and can take a piece far from simple conversation or logical progression. Just because something is structured in broken lines doesn’t raise it to music.

Well, that does point to the appearance of rap as standing somewhere between poetry and fully developed music, rather than chanting or a rhythm section … and opera did emerge out of an attempt to recover the tonal nature of ancient Greek language.

So the possibilities of the genre of prose poems stand as a provocation, and the trials can fascinate. As a rule, I’ve found shorter is sweeter – around a hundred words, max, lest you start writing paragraphs and the piece at hand lose its energy.

This year the Red Barn will be presenting a prose poem each Saturday, drawing on a collection published in 2018 at Thistle Finch. I am grateful to the editors of the following journals for giving some of the prose poems their first airing: Bounce Is Bard, Crack the Spine, Jerseyworks, Ray’s Road Review, Red Coral, The Screech Owl, The Singularity Review, Souvenir Lit Journal, Subliminal Interiors, and The Vein.

Most of them arise from correspondence in my years before relocating to the New Hampshire seacoast and thus represent events now somewhere back in my foggy past. The persons they’re addressed to in these whirlwinds are abstractions, more than actual individuals. What I do know is that I could not create these works today, my outlook is so different.

I hope you enjoy them.

Jan as in January

and so having examined his cards she shot off fireworks from a waist-high bank of snowy night bottle rockets, the progression silence whoosh bang! in some bereavement overcome by momentary pyrotechnics in a furtive event, just once and it’s over who knows how she added fractions to appropriate repeated waves of painters, musicians, singers while he saved five years for some overcast studies prowling the night trajectories into hooting night forest only to detect he has zero bearing as a nightmare impostor posted KEEP OUT and call it quits, entering darkness Better luck next time