Featured Prompts from Mark Klett
From the series Stereo Files, "Saguaro," and "Day at Point Imperial" see more
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 from 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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Prompt 5 from Holly Roberts
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I am a teeth wand big nose eyes my
my small hands my claw my small
hands my claw my small arrow body my
eyes in the wood in the woods in the
ears and lashes lash black & white
She was born with her eyeballs upside down. Other people saw birds, trees, the rising moon. She saw tree roots, curbs, sleeping dogs. This did not disturb here. She preferred sure-footedness, and besides, not everything beautiful was forward or above.
On the second day, we sewed our eyes shut
with needles thin as splinters. We were pointing our longing
at something like transcendence. Our eyelids flamed,
then wept, then swelled and crusted as our other senses
A portrait like love; like silhouettes
of a crush at 13 nourishing a
pillow of sweat, nervous systems expose
They have such small arms
those men in their gray herringbone suits
Prompt 4 from Melanie Rae Thon
The Good Samaritan Speaks:
Why do you call me good? Everything is good: me, you, the boy
waving the gun: I hear him now, crying in the arroyo: I saw the
car rolled and tried to help, but the boy with the gun was afraid
and fired: the rattlesnake is good, the saguaro, the rabbit: the
blood of strangers sings in my veins: they know not what they do: I
hear the voices of multitudes: lava, gneiss, quartz, granite: sand
that becomes stone that becomes sand: all that is through time: a
song vibrating in bone long after notes vanish: vertebrae, fibula,
clavicle, sacrum: black holes humming in space, fourteen billion
years of sound, a universe of song, all that is, before and after: the
gray fox climbs trees, the bighorn sheep sees two miles: who
among us is not good: what being not holy: scorpion, wasp,
catclaw, cholla: the vulture finds the dead and purifies the world:
poppy, lupine, iris, lily: who do you not love: what being is
unworthy? The problem bear is good: she walks with me across
the desert: the agave fruits once and dies, its seed exploding in the
world: heart, hand, eye, pelvis: which part do you not need:
thunder, rain, river, lightning: who here is not perfect: at dusk,
white-winged doves circle, looking for water, a reflection of sky on
earth: blue is good, so good: God, a fallen cloud: we have never
been this thirsty.
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Prompt 3 from James Gouldthorpe
The heat that summer was so extreme it melted the shadows from the sides of houses. Black and gray rivulets of lightlessness ran across dead lawns. Shade rained down from trees and collected in pools beneath the leafy canopies. Sheep changed color, heat burning the wool black one day, sun-bleaching it white the next.
The postcard is a picture of my father and his family: my grandpa at the head of the table, my grandma in her apron. My dad looks maybe five or six, my aunt is probably four. The picture’s black and white. They sit around the table. Their plates are empty.
Mechanical production of the re-.
Given the problem of X,
solve for the solution is more.
To solve for potential, cock
the hammer. Double the number
of finger bones of a child's hand --
He wanted to chalk the line of a more perfect idea—and yet, notwithstanding that, he could not bridge the horizontal distances nor other matters of use to living.
The hog pen is a womb. Laden with sweet grass before the great emptying of 1944. Caress the runt like a yarn doll, remove feces, freshen vegetable feed, firm finger strokes and chat her up. The meat tastes poor inside stressed beasts.
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Prompt 2 from Michael Martone
S T l L L
In 1915, on the eve of his departure from San Francisco to Japan for his first tour there, the news broke that Aimee Cour, the wife of Art Smith, the Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, had left California, returning home via train to her parents in Indiana. His three-year marriage in shambles, Art took to the air in pursuit of his retreating wife, tracing the railroad right-of-way until he overtook the consist near Truckee as her train approached the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada. There, in the thin mountain air, Smith composed a message in the hope his estranged wife would catch a glimpse of the missive out of her parlor car window.
Prompt 1 from Wendy Kawabata
"Pot Hunters," handmade pin perforations in paper
"The Thicket," handmade pin perforations in paper
by Wendy Kawabata
in better days when they
first came i rattled gently
the windows hid teacups and
made shapes like rabbits rise
A bramble. A big mess. A maze. Follow the insides of the branches
to get out of the basement back conference-portion of a casino.
But the birds want to get in to the berries, bright cherries you pull for.
The wild rose bush in my neighbor’s yard drapes over the fence.
Black out heat delirium
in a crawlspace
in the back of a delivery truck,
...i loved...all this...so i always lived...in the negative...space...i knew...the perforations...but i didn't...get...what paper was...because i lived...in the wounds...in the woods...i wandered...but i wondered...what it was...to be unwounded...only i...understood...the hole...where the bullet...had gone...through...the whole time...i was...the emptiness inside...the barrel...of the gun...
Sergeant Legos served in the Imperial guard, though he'd never been to the palace. Captain Sord, in charge of the seven outposts that composed the First Front of the Imperial Hinterland, was the highest ranking official he had ever met. Part of Legos' job required work with wood but he had never seen a tree. He had a wooden leg but usually opted for the crutch. Excluding the villagers of the seven outposts, this region had few occupants, mainly those with official sanction to pursue extended acts of self-deprivation and the roving surveyors who mapped the unclaimed land ahead of the avant garde.
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