Jul/Aug 2005 Poetry

Four Prose Poems

by Mark Cunningham

Pacific Golden-Plover

Even if I hold my breath for thirty seconds, for forty-five, after a minute I will have exhaled more breath than I had exhaled a minute ago. Since I started this, my spleen has weeded out more used blood cells. Today, I've scratched four times that I'm aware of, sheering off who knows how much skin. I've added x many nose blows to my total. I walked for fifteen minutes: a little sweat. One more moment of tingling half-numbness in my left foot. I sat for fifteen minutes: a little more sweat. Rudolf Schwarzkogler supposedly shaved bits of himself away with a razor: intense performance art. The photos are of a gauze-wrapped model, and Schwarzkogler died when he fell out a window. But just standing at the sink, I've had one more jab in my right side, too high for the appendix, too low for the liver. When I wake from an afternoon doze, I find two hairs lying on the headrest of my chair.


Greater American Flamingo

Guy Davenport has a theory that if you ignore a problem long enough it will go away. Experience has shown me that, while this doesn't work with a flat tire or fault lines, it does fine with people. Forget deep, probing conversations and working with various stubbornesses, mine and others. I just smile and remain polite. After a few visits, almost anyone will go away. In fact, I live in Virginia and both the people I liked recently moved to California. I've read that in India, people in laughing clubs meet every morning in parks to laugh together. It's a trickle-down theory. The laughter massages their organs and improves their moods, and happiness equals health. Biologists have shown that if you smile, the expression resets your nervous system, which then produces the feeling that the expression shows. So these days, I just smile like someone in a foreign country. And my hearing has gotten better: after a few minutes, the voices of the people talking to me get much louder.


Black Swift

Erratic pulse steadies, the surge glazes, the suspension as the drive masses over the edge, then the haul braiding and fraying, a waterfall is a type of sleep, thighs slack, body open to the sternum, weight going but still drawn in flight-trawl, the weight of not wanting to wake up at 7 a.m., of knowing a ringing phone means nothing good, the jaw-line already blurred, the tow where the rush turns translucent and opens sheer into speed and roar, all sound blasted clear of memory, sound just now breaking through. I held. It would have been over too soon.


Hill Myna

I've talked to myself for decades and I can't remember a word I've said.


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