David McAleavey

Two Prose Poems

Volume 14:4, Fall 2013
Prose Poem Issue


Nothing revealed the reason Brenda and her gorgeous ilk swayed observers to obey. Nothing had been hacked, caught on tape, gone faulty, flighty, its feistiness nibbled down to bitterness. To jam a magnet in a bin of nails demonstrates to anyone the idea of attraction. I love your hat, she said, your safari shirt, and you should keep them. It might be as simple as that.

The lurch inheres due to the way these ships are built, pain and sorrow, then sports bars and gentlemen’s clubs, the ways of the South and the North, her ways and his, always under the screaming sun whose remains we represent and dream. Wait, aren’t those marine iguanas on your wallpaper? Yes, at the edges anyway. From the edges in, increasingly, everything is getting dark. Most of your body will never see the light, that is, those atoms and molecules of the living tissue; once they’re replaced or supplanted, sloughed off, pumped to the purification station, yes. Light is death, then; life, darkness.

If you are like me you are not feeling a good deal of comfort from this, in fact it is reminding me of things I need to do, not to mention my aggravation about our frequent flyer program. I, too, could be reading a book, or an e-book, like a scroll, only searchable, and on a medium different from papyrus, differently durable. I offer a few memories of  papyrus, and of books. Once there was a boy set forth.


When my shirt dries

When my shirt dries. When the wind dies. When the nest falls, long unused, and when the tree topples. When it’s time. When people move across the prairies, and the sun sets, and that is where they aim tomorrow. When clouds just vanish. When they reappear. When stars. When men punch, when feeling threatened. When no one is threatening me. When I forget where I was, when I finally forget the shame of scoring against my own team, when they fence off the cemetery everyone had been ignoring. When the fence grows dingy and litter lies along its base. When the picture frames all look lopsided. When they’re okay. When they prefer the tunnel to the bridge. When they never do. When the weather seems undecided. When you’re at the top of the mountain where it’s cold and windy. When what is going on. When the whole house suddenly quiets and you can hear a clock and then the thermostat clicks. When there is no news. When they stop looking at you that way. When the vehicles gang together. When the ground shifts here on the earth’s surface. When you can see it. When you taste it in the air. When the wind blows. When the ship hits a reef and goes down. When people drown. When that is the end. When you give up on a book so you can choose another. When my shirt dries and I can go downtown. When I can buy supplies. When I have learned to paint, and to write poems, and when it will always be just what I wanted. When the series stops. When the series stops in order to start again. When that is a series, and the series of stoppings and restartings is another series, or part of another, and the sun seems to be rising and setting. When we are aiming for what seems. When they let my people go. When. When I believe no one is alone, and what it means to know no one is, when no one reading this is. When the wind dies. When you touch my arm. When you say your prayers, even then. When you have learned the manners of your place, and when you are in your place. When you don’t mind any more. When you scamper along, cutest little thing. When you feed the rabbits. When you throw a brick. When the telephone is obsolete. When you have the power and the good grace not to use it even though even then you do. When you are a trace. When the trace is erased.


David McAleavey's fifth and most recent book is Huge Haiku (Chax Press, 2005). His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest and Denver Quarterly. He teaches literature and creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, DC. To read more by this author, see the Spring 2001 Issue, and the Whitman Issue.