KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Prose Poem: 537 words [R]


by Maxine Chernoff
“the fabric I ate/ and ate.” —Lisa Fishman

You are the one who lived beyond this and that, whose face was a recompense like a photo showing unknown people in a better time when snow covered most of the view they were trying to obscure, and smoke the rest, the beautiful variety of white smoke (maybe steam) with its waving tangents ascending to the cobalt dome of the sky.

You made televisions mad with war go blank or showed music that covered the news of more deaths here and certain lack of life there, you were with the white piano on fire and the candles blazing on the piano on fire, and on the lawn there were birds of various black hues with beaks cracking tiny yellow seeds, also there to distract you from the war.

You are the crack in the ceiling she noticed when he was not there, not in bed this night or that night, nor present in the morning. The curtains’ breeze was static and the trees buzzed with peculiar light as she traced the sheets and shadows on walls and asked time to assist the process of slow forgetting which is similar to remembering but in muted, kneeling tones.

You are the record player for my funny valentine in this version and that version and some versions yet to be made by DJs who will break the song in half or quarters or sixteenths or forty-eighths and place parts of it elsewhere like leaves dried in books about the Moors and sing something else that reminds you of summer in Dallas or Prague or Vermont.

You are the locus of happiness locus of sorrow you are the water where dolphins nurse their young and the water that makes boats list in Williams’ poem The Yachts which is not nearly his best with its driving rhythms and forced endings and endless triumphs—he is better on small projects as you are in making happiness a temporary patch in regard for the moment and nothing to follow.

You are the formlessness of form as it breaks from its song or shape or recent invention in independence from what surrounds it, the figure that goes from one shadow to the next without disputing its small place in the painting where men come and go and sell things packed on camels in a desert that reaches beyond the castle at the end of the Silk Road and the three subsequent left turns to the ancient widow’s house.

You are the eventual practice of learning to wait by a pond as light changes from morning to day to generation to others at the same pond on a Saturday late in summer when she takes his hand and he breathes in deeply and tells her to come away from here, the edges are dangerous and far too filled with memory.

You are you turning back on yourself like a dress unsewn and unraveled and no longer quite cloth—more like paper—in a narrow closet where people leave things when they move and light slants as is its tradition in rooms that get lost in a story of leaves and seasons and long endings in patience-filled sunlight.

— From Ms. Chernoff’s collection of expansive poems, Here (Counterpath Press, 2014); reprinted by permissions of author and publisher

Maxine Chernoff
Issue 1, Fall 2014

Brief Bio at New American Writing

Detailed Bio at San Francisco State University

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Most recent book: Here, Counterpath Press (February, 2014)

Drones, poem + Author’s Statement in “Writer’s Corner: 2013 Poetry,” National Endowment for the Arts

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