Though I've always been attracted to the flexibility of the prose poem form, its lack of "rules," I thought I'd try writing some prose poems using a constraint of some kind, albeit a really minor one. So I wrote a series that all contained the same number of lines. "She reattached the ground wire at the switch" and "Now is on fire and here's a mirror" are a couple of pieces from that series. One of them took an hour or two to finish; the other, around a year.
Now is on fire and here’s a mirror
Now is on fire and here’s a mirror. One can smell the quashed image burning. The flat desire to set one's self up. This will to pain untubing and firing. Grrrr go the ghosts to be. The someones in whose laps one felt, learning who to be and who not, will go. Their voices like suspended vapor, lines of electricity bringing news of zeros and protocol. Touch is almost absent. So that family means famished, tasting another's unmet life on your tongue, being another's paste stone, unable to know what except by throwing out a net of imagining—how far?—to see what one can catch. The interned lean through, surprised at the pleasures of belonging to a body. Take spring. Interlocking communicants blend and release. Beneath the seam of a bridge, several of the uncatalogued edge toward heat’s radial wavering.
She reattached the ground wire at the switch
She reattached the ground wire at the switch, and he ran the knife blade along the self-insulated claw-ending like he was smoothing down the spread in a sandwich trip system. They were finally operating with total concentration on a continuous control circuit after an unexpected last-minute contribution of food, water, videos, and silk. A point had been reached where everything could be checked ahead of time. But they very badly wanted to congress, to be there with or without a fusing device; they were loose that way. But they wanted a direct line receptor to successfully bond with one or the other's inner storyline. Once upon a time a squib of newly authorized local field reps went out looking for a little piece of cheap access to a switching network. But they were moving too fast and tore open like sugar packets, spilling and dematerializing in the rain.
Steve Gilmartin's fiction and prose poems have appeared in Fourteen Hills, Double Room, Paragraph, 3rd bed, Mad Hatters' Review, and elimae among other places. He lives in Oakland, CA.