William Reichard


I work in the prose poem format because it allows me to focus on ideas or narratives that don't seem to work in a typical freeverse form. In freeverse, there can be narrative, but it often takes a backseat to image and metaphor. The prose poem allows me to follow a narrative line without the rigor necessary in fiction, yet forces me to make the best and most concise choices when it comes to word choice, and what I do or do not show.




Fairy Tale (I)


He walked away and didn’t come back. That’s how it was. If I’m going to be completely honest, I have no better story to tell. It was twilight. He had a slight limp. It was December and bitterly cold. My stomach ached with it, that kind of loss for which I have no name other than pain. For days after, I looked out the picture window, hoping to see him coming up the walk, or standing in front of the house across the street. I made up all kinds of scenarios to address what I didn’t know. I knew nothing. I knew he had been here, and now was gone. I knew I’d done nothing to help him, nothing to stop his going. Perhaps that was enough. The rest of my punishment, I could mete out myself; it was easy; as simple as once upon a time...



Fairy Tale (II)


You’ll want to pay attention to this one. It’s about a small girl who gets lost. She suffers a series of misadventures along the way, none of them pleasurable or instructive, none of them even cautionary; that’s the way it is sometimes, bad circumstances that are pointless, irredeemable, useless except as a means to make us feel lucky for what we have or guilty for what we have not suffered. Empathy is double-edged. Her story is thus: she was born. She belonged to someone, had a home. Then, there was turmoil, a sudden need to relocate. She was lost along the way and never found the path back. Now she lives in a hovel. People feed her scraps and, maybe, give her warm water on the coldest days. I can’t say honestly if she dreams of something better; perhaps she’s forgotten all of that; amnesia can be a blessing. Mostly, she eats and sleeps and looks out over the yard she’s come to call home. There’s no resolution to this story, if that’s what you’re after. I, too, long for it, the sweetness of a happy ending after the bitterness of such loss, but that’s so rarely the way it goes.



Fairy Tale (III)


We could start with his birth. That’s a certainty. And with his heart. He had one. Good or bad, no one can say, because he was plagued by spirits all of his life; bad spirits or good; when one comes into the world, it’s shadow travels along, just to keep the universe in order. Perhaps his childhood was difficult. In those days, that was the usual case. And at some crucial point, that place in one’s life when one makes that leap from child to man, he fumbled. He killed those he loved. Bad spirits traveled with him after that; good spirits as well, though their mouths were sutured shut with all the ill he had done. He came to walk only in the night, sometimes like a man and sometimes like a beast, sometimes like a bird, sometimes like a snake. The spirits still travel by his side; the bad worn thin as bird’s bones; the good so filled with all they cannot say that they threaten to burst at the first gentle gesture a human hand might make.




William_Reichard.jpgWilliam Reichard is the author of three collections of poetry: This Brightness (Mid List Press, 2007); How To (Mid List Press, 2004) was a finalist for the 2003 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and An Alchemy in the Bones (New Rivers Press, 1999) won a MN Voices Prize. He has one chapbook out, To Be Quietly Spoken (Frith Press, 2001) and one, Signs of Light (META Press) is forthcoming. He is the editor of The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s: A Gay Life in the 1940’s (Univ. of MN Press, 2001).