Word Poetry

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Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Molly Prosser

On a Date with Myself at the Monday $5 Movie

Everyone has a secret machine,
a quiet, internal technology
that sorts out the feminists from the porn stars,
that writes long, thin, ticker-tape lists,
that justifies the disappointment of bloodless bullfights,
that fasts and gorges and fasts when lovers are out of town,
that catalogues lyrics to Prince songs,
that gets library books back on time,
that craves meat out of windowless vans,
that creates panic at the thought of poisonous jellyfish,
that increases cheese intake,
that decreases the need for clean laundry,
that lowers voices to a whisper in the dark
just as the movie is about to begin.





Topography of a Body


If the truth of our childhood is hidden in our bodies, then mine lives in the tips of my fingers, burnt from canning tomatoes and salt-packing pickles,

or the insides of my nostrils singed by the cinnamon and clove
and root beer extracts my mother poured into the bubbling sugar pots for hardtack,

or on my wrist where the scar still smiles up at me from when my father's quick slash at a venison roast caught my hand inside the carcass, holding back the entrails.

Hair the color of dishwater, skin the color of a cut raw potato, lips pink like boiled corned beef. I am a Sunday dinner, a ready feast,
a fully-set table waiting for the bell.



Nesting


She thinks about the puffins hidden in the clutches of the black cliffs outside Reykjavik, huddled, alighting for haddock or herring as soft- spoken, thick-bearded men in their blinds cast nets

to catch them, trap them, midflight. They swallowed the chum from schooners, the plankton spewed from humpback feasts, gorging themselves until they were too fat to fly back to the volcanic shore and feed their hungry chicks.

She considers the killdeer faking a broken wing, protecting her nest from poachers, cooing and limping around her pile of rocks to distract her attackers, eggs rocking

slightly in the stones at the edge of the cracked parking lot. The raccoons are close, sick of dumpster scraps, craving the crack of speckled shells, the thick, golden yolk.

She opens her right hand, spreads her fingers apart and remembers how the Bantams' thin necks would fit in the spaces and how she would curl her hand around their soft, honey- colored heads,

her thumb stroking their beaks, the feathers between their eyes,
calming them, loving them, getting them ready for the sharp twist of the wrist.


From the Kitchen of...


I used to watch my grandmother roll the dough across the counter,
bits of flour and butter pressed into the cracks of ceramic,
filling the gaps in the grouting. She told me no man would stay unless I baked.

She liked to say goodnight to the apples and wedges of cheddar
before she tucked them in and made three quick incisions,
one for the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost.

I'd have an Easter wedding, she decided. We'd bake the pies
in shifts, assembly- line style, wooden rollers clanking on the countertops, crusts drying on makeshift racks, coils of apple peels wilting in the garden.

Even now, in a diner in North Hollywood, I catch a whiff of warm
Macintosh and smoky cheese and think, I'll marry a man
with a black lunch bucket.

I'll cut him a slice of pie and wrap it in wax paper. He'll come home late, maybe drunk, or maybe, if he follows his nose, on time.


Metalwork


I'm in my father's garage cutting siding for a hunting shanty
in a dead oil town in northern Pennsylvania. His voice is muffled
through the welding mask. He tells me to step back,
keep my eyes off the arc.

The weld pool, a mercury puddle just behind the tip of the heat,
makes a seam in the metal. I watch as the corrugated tin falls
in two pieces, slams on the concrete floor and topples the splintering saw-horses.

It wasn't always about cutting. There were times he soldered.
His calloused hands melting the rungs of an iron ladder to a massive iron frame, a homemade tree-stand that rested against a white birch in the back yard. I would climb to the top, solid foothold after solid foothold, and sit for hours staring at the
yawn of blue sky.

Now, waterfalls of light separate us. The ozone stench of the welding circuit and chewing tobacco stains on the floor push us apart, keep us at opposite sides of the metal until the inevitable break when we are left alone, holding our halves.