KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Prose Poem: 284 words


by James Claffey

The still form of the fallen bird, feathers ruffled in place at the exact moment of death. The world is a private one, container of secrets and shames, of reputations and damage done over years, of stark landscapes and icy skies. Paper treasures store memories like holdfasts on coastal rocks buffeted by storm waves and wild surf. The toast was to a new year of straight roads and gentle swells of pastureland as far as the eye can see. Home is a broken nose, the ridge offset, and the shadow of damage contained in profile. No more to creep the streets, head bowed, shame a relentless badge of failed marriage and crushed spirits. The old clothes of the recently interred year are shed, the soil and insects already working the weave to return the material to compost. In the morning light the dead bird is still, yellow beak and feet cold and brittle. The nare contains blood, a speckle, a by-product of a hawk’s attack. Mothers recede in the dawn, their white hair thinner and gold-washed by the lamplight. Change is the washrag to wipe away the sins of past days, the bitterest almonds stinking of the peel of a thousand oranges decaying in the barrel. Maybe it is time to let the dog wag its tail instead of the other way around. God and cheap whiskey, fur-lined gloves and shorn fields, empty cabins and plump pillows are the watchwords for writers’ tears and dropped phone calls home. Alive and at sea, the sails billow with fresh winds from the West and towards those distant drumlins the small craft breaks the waves, her proud prow and oiled oar-locks renewed for the voyage ahead.


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