Two Prose Poems

Luke St. John

An Ordinary Thing

Words hang across the pages like patio lights, illuminating nothing. My legs twitch with pent-up energy that no motion seems to dispel. The sliver of soap in the dish is uncooperative, unhelpful. I write pages of sentences purposely having nothing to do with one another. I remember my dead friend who told me that when he was just a little kid, his father broke his arm with a baseball bat. The old dog under the house nursed a litter of kittens one spring among the rats and roaches. The chimes on the porch sound as if the wind has seized them in its fist. I had sex once with a man whose mouth tasted like carrots, and later I felt changed but the change was not permanent. The pine tree is gone and a palm tree much too tall for the house stands graceless in its place. I try and try to maintain a policy of careful disconnection, and fail. Order wants to fall upon things like snow, if snow had desire, a desire just to settle somewhere and stay, or melt. Sense is such an ordinary thing, so plain it is often overlooked and never thanked. I want and want to dislocate myself in the trajectories of meaning but getting lost on purpose is harder than you think. If I could stand again upon the summit of that black mountain in a storm, the orange blossoms of my childhood would still spread their scent through the charged afternoons. Everything becomes a ridiculous proposition. It is a lie that salt lamps dissolve into the air. I look back, and seeing where I have never been, avoid what is clearly in my line of sight. Welding rods and sparklers light up the space inside my head, making little spitting sounds. The cards are literally on the table and the last game played was go fish. Outside in the dark things prowl around the house, trying to see in.  I wait and wait for understanding to leave me, but it is always the last person to go.


Recovered bits of memory, found things. I bend under their collective weight. Someone reclining upward on a cushion because she can’t get enough air, someone’s clenched fists, knowing that if I pried them open they would be holding nothing. The fluttering bird of fear wants to be let out of its cage. I walk, after the storm, into the bright morning, blinking my eyes against the sudden light. The electric lavender of flowers, surprise of deep purple, fragrant respite of white: They seem like truth to me, as true as anything ever spoken in words. Orange feels like hope, and this I hold onto as if I am drowning and have come upon a floating beam among the drenching waves. Clearly orange exists just for my salvation; I come to ground, settle, see where I am, where I am not. I breathe. The creek, all its greenly banks arranged, its lipstick geraniums, a single black shoe atop a fence, a grandfather oak arching wide. The air smells like earthworms, rain, woodsmoke. I take it all in, watch the last shadows of the final clouds lighten, disappear. Red roses, azaleas, graceful ivy, a bed of mint; wild daisies. The world a canvas upon which color paints while a solitary bird celebrates storm’s clearing.


Luke St. John lives and writes in Sacramento, CA. His work has appeared in Brevity, The Sun, Scissors and Spackle, Clean Sheets, and various other online venues.

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