KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Prose Poem: 433 words

The Difference between Poetry and Prose

by C. C. Russell

This is what I did tonight: I kissed her, pulled the zipper down the front of her jacket with my teeth, nibbled her earlobe, licked her neck. We laughed. These actions were prose. They had been done before. They were pedestrian. The way she grabbed my face, two-handed, out of pure need was poetry. The brush of a finger is the difference between poetry and prose. I cannot further explain without the cold cliché of desire. After all, we were drinking. But that is how it happened. Linear, paragraphed and paraphrased, our quick need.

Let me tell you the story of ten minutes two years ago. My lips, hers. My hand on her hips, ass. Grass. Us in the front yard, teeth clattering from cold while warmth was all that passed between us. A moment, they say, can still change a lifetime. This one decided that it didn’t want to.

We were children carrying helium balloons. We decided not to let them go. Instead, the sun crept like a spider mite towards a useless horizon and we did nothing to stop it from coming on. She woke up her husband and I tried to sleep.

No two people can expect connection. Previous connections keep us at arm’s length. What would we do if we fell into each other? If we had two minutes alone? What would it matter? The suicide urge of the smile, Oedipus pushing at his own eyes. What would we do that is so different from giving up? What would we do? You tell me first. The words on the tip of your unfamiliar tongue and the push of this togetherness somehow always tied to fear.

A month ago, I almost died. A semi-truck in winter’s first glancing blows forced me off the road. I will not lie—I didn’t think of her in that moment. I thought of no one. Not even myself. I thought of tires giving in to soft ground, what it means to say goodbye to no one in particular.

What would we do given two minutes alone, knowing that none of it would particularly matter in the least? I am afraid that we would want more. I’m afraid I would. The simple truth is prose. The way we skirt it is poetry.

I will end this with a sound: a car alarm three blocks away while I masturbate, pretending not to think of her. Masturbation is prose: the singular voice rambling. Orgasm is poetry: the breaking up of rational thought, most of the time leaving nothing but embarrassment and a small sort of exhaustion behind.

C. C. Russell
Issue 3, Spring 2015

Poetry by C. C. Russell has previously appeared in The New York Quarterly, Hazmat Review, Grasslimb, and Rattle among others. His short fiction has been published in The Meadow, Oyster Boy Review, KYSO Flash, and Microfiction Monday Magazine.

Russell currently lives in Wyoming with his wife, daughter, and two cats. In the past, he has lived in Ohio and New York. He holds a BA in English from the University of Wyoming and was the editor of their Owen Wister Review. He has held jobs in vocations ranging from hotel maintenance to dive bar DJ to retail management.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Showers, 312-word story in The Riding Light Review (Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2014)

Chinese Fire Drill in Microfiction Monday Magazine (seventh edition, 14 July 2014); scroll down to last micro on the page.

Blind, 1150-word story in Pindeldyboz (11 October 2004)

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