Two Prose Poems

Charlotte Mandel


              We are living in a state of accelerated stasis:   W.J.T. Mitchell

checking in at curb I trigger computer-random search alarm   lift carry suitcase end of line snake to ticket counter where I trigger computer-random search alarm     tail on to another line unlock zip open riffle   agent wipes inside of case with a white disk  what’s that? explosive detector palpates bathrobe blouses umbrella  re-zip  re-lock  separation anxiety as suitcase is tagged on moving belt to cargo  walk to x-ray line  remove coat  into tray fold pocketbook tote  stand upright on moving-person belt  enter arch of electric eye  up escalator  gate 38          wait     THE 2:30 WILL BE 20 MINUTES    WILL BE HOUR    WILL BE 2 HOURS CANCELLED    GO DOWN TO TICKET COUNTER BE RE-ASSIGNED A CONNECTING FLIGHT   walk  down escalator  walk to long long crocodiling line   where is suitcase   found        re-tagged for another airline   tag on to end of intestinal coil of line to x-ray    escalator up to gate       wait     I trigger computer-random search alarm     riffle through handcarried pocketbook     tote bag      off with coat   arms apart in crucifixion pose     wave wand  pick up a foot  wave wand   pick up other foot   wave wand    buckle in  smile smile juice water pepsi?    little bag of little pretzels    highway lights opposing pairs   white    red    house roofs   parking lots    neon      suitcase      pocketbook       tote      coat       home  oh      home    ah


Out of blindness rising like a blade of white silk I cleave gray cloud into black space lit by glows of burnt-out suns our own sun far on other side of the blue-veined planet. Destiny to become a white blade in unknown orbit? Into space time of forgetting? What I cannot recall does not therefore exist – at least not for my span of existence – not as a breathing pulsing organism but as a means – a mechanism assembled by some unknown force towards some unknown purpose of its own desire and yet   clean  bright   on my way   not so much to a destination as to joy of the voyage     progression is part of the unwritten story    no genesis that any human brain can spark    but what I am is    spark itself    that ignites      and cannot    be    put out


Charlotte Mandel’s tenth book of poetry is new from White Violet Press. Previous titles include two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision — The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. Awards include the NJ Poets Prize and two fellowships in poetry from NJ State Council on the Arts. Visit her at

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