Issue 16 · 2012




Five Prose Poems


by Megan Volpert





I am reluctant to get a dog



There’s a certain type of dog that sees a bike from the lawn and starts to give chase, even though to catch me means to get killed.  I slow down when approaching the definition of animal instinct, then speed quickly past the point of interception.  The other dog has its tongue lolling out, out the window.  This dog and I are friends.  Sometimes I dream about buying this dog a sidecar, but a bike isn’t a bike if it has more than two wheels.  You can’t really tell which kind of animal you have until you get it home for a while and see, and I’m not the type that returns a dog.





Don’t chase the white whale



Death is shoeless horse hooves.  We are an engine turning over in winter, grasping for solutions.  I don’t know any Irish drinking songs, but my entire body can turn still with reckoning when I catch such a melody on the wind.  It seems like every time the candle goes out, there are reasons to light a fresh one.  I once almost puked during an IMAX movie about deep-sea creatures, and not for the proportions of the picture.  I couldn’t stand the close-ups of their eyes.  It’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, just not until it’s done scaring holy hell out of you.





I never asked for a pony



My parents have always been terrible gift givers.  It was many years before I noticed, because they largely kept to my childhood lists.  The divorce ended their system of checks and balances, replacing it with a competition for the affection that in adulthood I have granted begrudgingly at best.  My mother exhausts whole rolls of cellophane tape on bric-a-brac packages containing frog motifs or wild west themes.  My father never sends a note with playing cards, old-fashioned candy and stuffed animals won out of the claw game during bowling league.  If they suspect my ingratitude, they refrain from confronting it.





I’m skipping the reunion



It’s true that I don’t always say or do the right things, but my wife puts up with me every time because that’s what marriage means.  We are always trying to be better, to be the same people we fell in love with and at the same time to be new people who are way more awesome.  Meanwhile, most of the girls I dated when I was growing up are still moving on to dudes with nice personalities or good dope.  When I was in school, I didn’t even know who our quarterback was and there is no way I could recall a single lab partner I ever had.





We are random number generated



Not knowing the tiny cinema in Ann Arbor was an independent theater, I stood looking at the posters in the lobby and thinking I was just out of it in terms of currently running movies.  Everything showing at this indy place appeared utterly mainstream.  Imagine being that kind of kid, so open that subtitles and cult underground queers could feel completely normal.  I only realized later that I had inadvertently done something cool.  And I was so cool, I hadn’t even noticed that I was that cool.  Hannibal Lecter said the first step in the development of good taste is to credit one’s own opinion.










Megan Volpert lives in Atlanta, where she teaches high school English.  Sonics in Warholia is her fourth book (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011).  She is currently editing an anthology on queer pedagogy and researching a book about the American bicentennial.  Predictably, is her website.