Question: What is a prose poem?
Answer: A poem that is formatted in one or many blocks of text (like prose) instead of broken up in lines and stanzas.
Questions: What separates prose poetry from flash fiction?
Answer: . . .
People have their own theories about what delineates the two (you can look at some theories here and here) but for me, prose poetry has to do with how I order the work: the word choice, the balance, the rhythm. Unfortunately, just because I can see how these are different in my own work doesn’t mean everyone else can. I’d like to say my prose poetry has less story and character, but that’s not always the case — as you’ll see in a few minutes, some of my prose poems are retellings of fairy tales, so there’s definitely some character in there. If I’d written “The Kiss” as flash fiction instead of as poetry, the final result would not have been the same . . . but for some people, surely, “The Kiss” doesn’t read like poetry at all, and I have (at this moment in time) no better way to explain myself than that.
In short: my prose poetry and my flash fiction are separate things because I say so.
Now, that was all a long bit to introduce four prose poems that I’ve had published in three separate issues of Gargoyle. If you want to read about feminism and pop culture, you have come to the right place. (Oh, and there are spoilers for Night of the Living Dead in the first poem. I can’t believe I just put up a spoiler warning for a poem. It occurs to me that I might be a bit of a ridiculous person.)
I want to talk about zombies now. Is that OK? Does that ruin the picture of me as the serious academic artiste bohemian poet? Good. That picture’s false. I’m only a girl who’s seen Night of the Living Dead twelve times at the Pendulum Theatre. I want to talk about feminism now. I want to talk about blonde women named Barbara, whose brains are so worthless it’s a wonder the zombies bothered eating them at all. Wait . . . you want to talk about humanity now? I want to talk about humanity and zombies. Can’t you see that when the monsters come, humanity will come together to destroy itself? We’ll kill each other in the struggle for power, in our futile insistence to survive — but I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to talk about planning our escape, about why building your farmhouse next to a cemetery is always a bad idea.
(originally published in Gargoyle 56)
“Why Princess Leia Never Became a Jedi, No Matter What the Fanfiction Says”
It’s fair, isn’t it, to say Yoda was a Wiccan, that the Jedi were a coven of intergalactic kickass witches? Who is the author of the Force? Not your Jealous God, not Yahweh. Can you see him, sharing power with those creatures spun from dust? Thus it was men who cast their magicks and it was men who shaped the balance and it was women . . . well, the women. They had potential anyway. Of course what self-respecting woman would fight The Dark Side with a glowing phallus? That was left to fathers and father-figures and sons on the heroic journey. The father chopped his son’s hand off with his red and lethal penis. What does one learn from that? I can make nothing of it, my grief for James Earl Jones swallowing my every feminist thought. How I lament you, Mr. Jones. How could they pretend you were that pasty, that weak and dying thing? I ignore the parts I don’t wish to hear. How can you listen when Yoda speaks, do you believe that fear is wrong that anger is wrong that hate is wrong? Do you believe that passion leads to death? But imagine Star Wars without the passionate love affair of Han and Leia, without their butting heads and sexual tension and lack of incest. And do explain, George Lucas: is this Greek mythology or science fiction? Did Luke still lick his lips, remembering the sweet taste of his sister’s tongue? Or did he choose to forget? I am good at forgetting kisses. I am good, at tuning out the sounds of your — dare we say it — Vulcan philosophy. I attach cinnamon buns to the side of my head and take up a gun: I will fight; I will fight with my every breath and bone. My blood itself will scream defiance.
(originally published in Gargoyle 57)
Curious, how people thought of them as children, not as men. None of them reached higher than my hips, and yet each possessed the one and only qualification for a man. Don’t misunderstand: I didn’t take in each and every one, but Grumpy, I knew him well, and sweet, stupid Dopey too. Doc worried that I took advantage of Dopey’s childlike mental state, but I didn’t know what else to give him, and I had to give him something. Dopey would pick me wildflowers, blue and white petals for my hair. When people want you dead, you appreciate kindness so much more.
The Prince, he was not kind. The Prince was a necrophiliac, and it’s hard to cultivate people skills when you’re made hot by cold flesh. How long must his tongue have been, to dig out that chunk of apple lodged in my throat, and how disappointed he must have felt, when I started to breathe again.
You have to be grateful to the men who bother to bring you back from the dead, or so I was taught to believe. I was prepared to thank the Prince for the rest of my life — one day, as it turned out. My breathing was only a temporary inconvenience, and one quite easily remedied with a sword thrust to the heart.
It took me a moment to die. I thought, What’s the point in a second chance? I thought, Curious, how people expect a wandering necrophiliac to be a hero.
(originally published in Gargoyle 58)
So, we were saved. We were cut from the Wolf’s stomach, an emergency cesarean section into a happily ever after . . . but I still dream of wet things, of sliding headfirst down a slimy tunnel and landing in a pool of acidic juices, waiting to be digested. My skin feels sticky all the time. I take baths and can never get clean, always waiting, forever waiting . . . I smell fur and blood when I’m alone in the darkness.
But Grandmother said, a victim is only a victim because she chooses to keep hidden, lying under her bed and waiting for a hero to come. Grandmother says, “There won’t always be a huntsman conveniently waiting around the corner.” She says, “We’ve already been dead once. Do you want to surrender to death again?”
So I hold my breath in the dark, and I practice with my axe, and the first Wolf I kill makes a good blanket that I cannot stand to keep. I still dream of being blind, of strange shapes that float against me . . . but I sleep with my blades under my pillow.
And if I’m swallowed again, I’ll deliver myself.
(originally published in Gargoyle 58)