KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Prose Poem: 396 words [R]

The Fiftieth Face

by Bryce Milligan

So you are staring at the fifty faces—abstract figures really, but they say faces—that are supposed to be discernible in the soaring stained glass window before you, while you mindlessly calculate the number of pieces of individual glass there are by averaging the number your thumb can cover, or would cover if you had the chutzpa to hold your arm out, artist-like, in the middle of services but you don’t—have the chutzpa or hold your arm out artist-like—when you ask yourself what it means when meaning itself begins to pale, not like facts vanishing from one’s aging memory, not like losing faith in long held beliefs—whether or not those beliefs have any bearing on reality—but when their sense of importance, their meaning, loses its grip on those facts and beliefs and they begin to drift, having lost what kept them stable, what made them adhere each to each, what allowed a belief in an unproven god to coexist on an equal footing with a belief in love or your father’s hammer or string theory or any kind of future at all, given that the sun will eventually burn out and cease to glimmer through the 2,437 pieces of glass that you have just calculated make up this one window with its fifty figures, those hidden and those obvious, those with faces and those without, all but one of whom seem totally oblivious to your gaze—your gaze alone among all the eyes of this congregation—and you see her mouth moving, begging to be remembered, begging to be described because here she is among all these forty-nine other hooded and distorted saints and sinners crowded amidst the swirling tongues of sun-fueled red and yellow and orange, whirling from cross to cross to cross like the vortices of flame that lay down tunnels to hell in a forest fire but here supposedly lead one heavenward, skyward, upward anyway, beyond the faces and figures, beyond the cathedral itself, but gravity and the dizziness of flight bring you back to those lips, moving imperceptibly, silently begging to be remembered, begging to be given a name, to be given a meaning that will not be lost in some rambling rumination on a dateless Sunday morning but will last like Persephone’s story, as good on one spinning planet as on any other.

— First appeared in print in Clover (No. 5, 2013), and appears online in Sudeep Sen’s “World Poetry Portfolio #56” in Molossus (21 June 2013); reprinted by author’s permission

Bryce Milligan
Issue 1, Fall 2014

A prolific, award-winning author in numerous genres, ranging from children’s books to novels for young adults, to adult poetry and criticism. Bloomsbury Review has called him a “literary wizard.” Critic Paul Christensen wrote of Milligan as “one of the principal writers of the region and a force at the center of the literary art movements of Texas.” He directed the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s literature program, and was a co-founder and longtime director of the San Antonio Inter-American Book Fair.

Milligan has been the publisher, editor, and book designer of Wings Press since 1995. Wings Press has published some 200 books since then, in all genres, with a focus on multicultural literature. Its authors hail from all over the Americas, including 26 different states (and including half a dozen state poets laureate). Wings Press has been profiled in numerous publications, including Poets & Writers Magazine and the Huffington Post.

Milligan is also the author of six collections of poetry, including Alms for Oblivion (London: Aark Arts, 2003), called by Sudeep Sen “both Miltonic in ambition and expanse, and understated and image-packed like a Japanese haiku. It is an oratorical tour-de-force: haunting, cadenced, mythic, and lyrical.” Milligan’s poetry and his song lyrics have appeared in numerous literary magazines.

He has been a master artist/national panelist for the National Young Arts Foundation. He recently received the Gemini Ink “Award for Literary Excellence” (October 2011) and the St. Mary’s University President’s Peace Commission’s “Art of Peace Award” (2012) for “creating work that enhances human understanding through the arts.”

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

“World Poetry Portfolio #56” by Sudeep Sen in Molossus (21 June 2013) features 13 pieces by Milligan including two prose poems, “The Fiftieth Face” and “Down the road a bit in America.”

Amazon’s Assault on Intellectual Freedom in Monthly Review’s MRZine (13 March 2012)

In Praise of the Lowly Chapbook, guest editorial in Publishing Perspectives (6 November 2009)

Inventory of the Bryce Milligan Papers, 1977–2008 in UTSA Library Special Collections

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