Prompt Seven l images by Lauren Frances Evans
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We had dinner at the table and talked. It was hard to talk at first. I talked, and she said not much. And then I couldn’t talk, but I kept trying things. We ate salad and we ate beans. After a while, I thought of something to say. It got a little easier as the meal went on.
She said she was pretty tired.
Okay, I said.
Then she said she’ll just sleep downstairs.
I said her name and looked at her. I’ll sleep downstairs, I said. It’s fine.
Okay, she said.
I told her I was sorry I made her uncomfortable.
BOUND TO BEING; KNOT CONNECTED. LAUREN FRANCES EVANS. 2015.
after a lifetime of being
just a passing thought
in the black expanse of knowing
my god gave me a broken body
twisted on itself and ugly
but it was
the only body left
and I was so tired of being left
so here I am
corrugated and recyclable
my structural integrity called into question
every time it rains
Drilling for Oil
I have a habit of admiring other people’s veins. Snake-sized, sinewy, accessible veins. The veins I did not inherit. The veins I wish I had.
There is a slight intake of breath when I enter, a quick darting of the eyes to a co-worker, a sudden need to use the restroom.
The short one tells me I don’t drink enough water (a lie). She misses twice and thus I am passed to contestant #2.
The dark-haired one tells me she is a vein whisperer and there will be no trouble in her blood-letting alcove. She sticks me four times without success.
Prompt 6 l images by Mark Klett
From the series Stereo Files, "Saguaro," and "Day at Point Imperial" see more
Joe Allen Artz
Through Two Mind's Eyes
My eyes continue to show me two choices at opportune times. My left eye shows the boiling pot spilling; the right shows me backing away. I choose the right and am saved a scalding burn. As a rattlesnake strikes, my right eye shows it aimed at my ankle; my left shows its opened mouth shooting toward my calf. I choose the left image, and the fangs strike the thick leather of my boot, not the flesh a few inches higher.
There and they’re—a pigtailed pair
who share the same vulnerability
to glaucoma. Two more match
tie-dyed shirts, Kruse Brothers
Car Club hats. Duplicate nails,
converge in Twinsberg, Ohio
every August. In Twinsberg, Ohio,
this picture of me. grand canyon. 1975. i am eight. i am browner than a squirrel with a nut in her cheek & my hair is snot green from the chlorine in the pools & my mouth is full of too big, clambering teeth, full of high pine needles & binoculars & stars and the high dark society of night...
Saguaro Woman Sings Love Songs to Herself
In the moon when my older sisters’ fruit ripens
I drink trays of rain, swell my pleated middle.
By the moon when fat falls from animals,
my hairy toes gripping sand long for a dew-sip
but clouds too lose their fat.
My crown rises toward tinny stars.
“What is it about that place?” my wife asks.
She means the Grand Canyon; she wants to know why I need to keep going back. Though if anyone knows, it would be her: we saw it together—my first time—nearly 35 years ago, in August. I had driven across country with a kidney stone, the tiniest sliver of calcium compounds, a miniscule collection of crystals, an implausible cause of blinding pain. The next night she’d have to call an ambulance to get me from our hotel to the hospital in Flagstaff. But that afternoon, far above the turbid Colorado River—I would have been envious, if I had known how effortlessly its flow moves house-sized boulders—I walked along, both hands pressed against my abdomen, focused narrowly on my feet until she—my girlfriend, then—called out. I had wandered off the path. My right foot stopped inches from the rim.
Prompt 6 l prose poems by Francesca Abbate
Montaigne begins his essay “On Liars” with a critique of his own memory: “I can hardly,” he claims, “find a trace of it in myself.” On today’s late afternoon walk by the river, Not Baby watches as, in the just lifting fog of another mild winter day, the antenna-masted paperboard factory turns into an antique vessel and sets sail.
Because of the warmth and lack of snow, biologists have counted fewer bald eagles this year at the confluence just west, though there have been some sightings on smaller tributaries as they scavenge carcasses in farm fields.
Rarely does Not Baby call up her ghosts; so many may, after all, still be breathing, like the young man who camped near the radiator next to her apartment door twenty years ago, either because the shelter down the street was full, or because he preferred the solitude of the 2nd floor foyer in that half-tenanted building where, for a week, he didn’t—as many others had, and would—snore, piss himself, or go for her ankle when she stepped over him at 3am after closing up the bar.
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