Academic journal article Chicago Review

Three Prose Poems

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Three Prose Poems

Article excerpt


Let's see about the dead with yellow underside-wings and black spotted otherwise white body: the golden-breasted woodpecker face up, wings open facing upward on the road where the road is for about eight feet in length & barely two lanes wide a bridge over a creek-let's see if we can determine how he died, whether by hitting the concrete edge of the bridge only a couple feet high or having been hit by a car, first stunned, this likely given the condition of his perfectly intact body, each detail of the complex wing beyond notation, denotation, nothing drawn and other dead: a raccoon, 11 butterflies each yellow in the gravel beside the highway where we walked our bikes an hour, two more birds one white and round one more familiar-brown and the skeleton of a larger one I didn't show them all to my companion but he being small saw most of them. Friederike Mayröcker what would you say next would it be to mention also the flock of wild turkeys crossing early on the ride, grown turkeys & baby turkeys as if a whole neighborhood of them running when they heard or sensed or saw us-running, not flying, as we rode downhill toward them not wanting to frighten but also laughing at their way of running & bobbing & waddling & flapping their wings at once until they reached the trees across the road and only then flew up into them, as if tumbling up into the branches, or would it be otherwise entirely


the question is, to be a person riding the elevated train at night going somewhere among others such as the tall woman reading a book with Hindi title The Practice of Mindfulness in English, the woman staring intently at her iPod, the boy texting, the couple not talking, the people talking, to be carrying olives and fish and a pie in my bag, to have forgotten clean socks and underwear, to be over-jacketed in goose-down on the not-snowing night, to be not getting at it whatever Henry James meant by "it" or by "getting at" it, or it being pepper spray poured into the throats of people sitting down at University of California Davis, it being truncheons shoved into the ribs of people standing still at University of California Berkeley, it being the rock in Madison smashing the window of the Victory café without wifi which means people look at each other and talk to each other, it being each specific person and incident and pattern and system of which these are the merest part, in the context of which my being on this train with also pens and a notebook and whipped cream for the pie is without significance whatsoever and at the same time is happening


A road being different at night from day a shadow flickers consciousness of, and so each site is only half itself evoked or less than half as only for a moment was it so, and so the field and patch of weeds and gravel, pasture, fence as well; as well the night forms meeting tires of the car on road: that sound and feel inside the car, the night seen looking up and out when lying down in back or leaning low against the door- the tops of trees "going by" ink-black occasionally smokestacks, at other times an urgency in reading wishing to keep reading after dark in the backseat catching one or two or three words at a time each time a car went by, the headlights as they go allowing light to pass that quickly over page, the pressure of my forehead against glass, the window cool or cold impressed on skin because the closer to the window the more light a moment on the page, and being desperate for a car to pass and very slowly if at all to turn a page-but other times just looking at the movement of what's seen

[Author Affiliation]

Lisa Fishman's most recent book is 24 Pages and other poems (Wave Books, 2015); earlier books include FLOWER CART (2011) and The Happiness Experiment (2007), both from Ahsahta Press. …

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