Day Eight


The house was a box of dynamite

My mother threw a sauerbraten at my grandfather once
I remember the Sunday afternoon
But I didn’t know what precipitated it

The chunk of meat slapped against the wall
It’s juices running through her fingers
It was an unusual meal
My nose was unaccustomed to the spices
My grandfather picked it up
sliced a few pieces
and dutifully ate it as I watched from my bedroom door

I was six years old
I could taste my fear

Mom picked up her keys
and purse
and drove to a motel
in Colorado Springs for some days.
I can’t remember how many,
but I remember the feeling of unknowing

She just threw it at him
Because he complained
and she worked so hard to make something special
just for him
So she threw it at him
in despair
of not being
she felt like she never was
I understand that now

In the still night I could hear her
hollering through the phone
From some hotel far away
My grandfather asleep in his bedroom
Me in mine
And Dad listening
Holding the receiver away from his ear
sitting on their pullout couch bed in the living room
We lived in the back of my dad’s TV repair shop
Which was my grandpa’s
shoe repair shop first
She lived there her whole life until I was 18

Who knew a sauerbraten

Could cause such an explosion

Shaking her head
my grandmother said
then pointing to her head
when my father told her what happened
I knew what she meant

The crazy woman of delusion

In my bed, a stone, not comfort

I flew away
But only in my dreams

Little girl, a name she never grew out of,
An only child
Six years old
She was only an observer
And she would grow up
To understand

The hospital
welcomed her
I remember those days
some days
I can’t remember how many
Visits just like in the movies
Cold with green walls
windows into rooms
doors that locked
lots of shiny green tile
and stainless steel

And she was quiet for a long time after the explosion


the stuffed bunny
from the Easter basket
as tall as I was
comforted me when she was gone
even now
I’m sitxy seven

and cold green walls


This happened with today’s prompt. I didn’t see it coming.

Each stanza is an answer, in order, to the 20 “little projects.”

“The prompt is called the ‘Twenty Little Poetry Projects, ‘ and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. And here are the twenty little projects themselves — the challenge is to use them all in one poem:

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.

2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.

3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.

4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).

5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.

6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.

7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.

8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.

9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.

10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).

11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”

12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.

13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”

14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.

15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.

16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.

17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.

18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.

19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).

20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.”

27 thoughts on “Prismojen

  1. Congratulations on the feature.

    Reading this piece is like watching a really well made film. Every scene and ‘feeling’ comes alive with human vulnerability. This is awe-inspiring work.

  2. Ditto to what labyrinthdoor said. This piece sent chills through my spine. And I was proud of myself for SORT of making through that prompt as best as I could (but not brave enough to actually get a website up and post it…).

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