KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Prose Poem: 209 words


by Jeff Friedman

He built a house out of wood in which to lose his grief. To fill the house, he stole crumbs from the lips of strangers as their tongues searched their mouths. He stole the sadness floating in the eyes of the bereaved. He stole the darkness inside their clasped hands. He stole the feathers of a crow, dried blood from wounds, bones from open graves. He stole petals from flowers, juice from broken stalks. He stole wings from widows as they stumbled over the grass. He stole half laughs, whispers and voices lingering in the wind. He stole lies that were as good as truth. He stole truths that fell like silence. He stole silence from the spaces where bodies had fallen. He stole the perfume of death and kept it in bottles stacked in a room. He stole dark suits and dresses, shovelfuls of dirt tossed on caskets, dust from headstones. He stole trays of rotting cold cuts and the flies raising a ruckus. The house grew wings but couldn’t fly. The windows dissolved. The doors fell off their hinges. The staircases rose into emptiness. He set the house on fire, and the fire burned for years, stealing his sleep and his breath, but not his grief.

Jeff Friedman
Issue 6, Fall 2016

has six poetry collections in print, five with Carnegie Mellon University Press, including Pretenders (2014), Working in Flour (2011), and Black Threads (2008). His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International,, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, Plume, Agni Online, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Smokelong Quarterly, The Vestal Review, The New Republic, and numerous other literary magazines.

Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish poet Mieczslaw Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014. Friedman and Orlowsky were awarded an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2016.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Interview with Poet/Translators Dzvinia Orlowsky and Jeff Friedman by William Doreski in Solstice (Spring 2016)

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