Friday, 14 October 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: Em Strang's "Hare"

This compelling prose poem appears in Em Strang's first collection, Bird-Woman, just out from Shearsman Books. 


In Memoriam Jyoti Singh

I'm carrying the hare along the road. One of its back legs is hanging by a single tendon, blood seeping slowly in the cold. It's early morning, but the hare is late. The school bus has taken it by surprise, for the last time. I'm holding it like a newborn baby, one hand beneath its head, the other beneath its backside. It's heavy. It weighs roughly as much as a fully grown, well-fed tomcat. It's the kind of weight I'd prefer to sling over my shoulder.

For some time now, I've been unable to let the images go: the bus in the semi-dark, the young woman and her male friend; the blood on the men's hands and all their wide eyes in the confines of the vehicle; the metal air; the woman's voice which I can hear, again and again, no matter where I look.

The body is still warm and limp, still supple, and I keep half-expecting its eyes to blink, its legs to jerk awake. I half-expect the hare to jump and charge away from me. But it doesn't. I carry it into the woods and put it down beneath a rhododendron bush. I lay it out in such a way that the gashed leg is invisible and it looks, it really looks, as though the hare is wide alive and running. It doesn't matter whether I'm doing this for me or for all hares.

I find a few branches and twigs and make a kind of woody tent over the body. I don't do this for other roadkill, but I've been watching the hares all year – there's a pair. Or there was. They circle the house like sentinels, beginning on the eastern side with the sun and working their way round through the orchard, past the hen-run and into the woods. I watch them through the windows, their black-tipped ears, their long, powerful hind-legs that work like suspension coils, easing the body up and forward, down and forward, perpetually sprung; ready, I supposed, for the unexpected.

By now it's a familiar story. The woman with a young, smiling face and soft skin. Her softness in the last light of the evening. All the shouting men, their mouths, their drenched clothes.

It's a small back road with little traffic, but the school bus passes twice a day and the driver doesn't mean to hit it. He's late and the kids are waiting, out in the cold on a corner of turf.

I stroke its long ears back against its head, stroke its fine coat, white belly, small face. Hares have kinetic skulls – they're jointed – which allows for a degree of movement between the front and back sections. It helps absorb the force of impact as the hare strikes the ground.

The iron bar. The shadow faces. The quiet glistening of the steering wheel, an empty glass bottle, an eye.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "With the Boy, in the Box" by Jennifer Kronovet

With the Boy, in the Box

I drag the boy along the shore in a box, a boy-box, a not-box. I pause to speech-draft us a word-ship, a ship-box, a ship, and I try to leave spaces for weather, we-weather. I leave spaces that are high, highly visible for us to move into as we grow culture with our box-myth: a box can be a word can be a ship can be the blank that takes us to each other.

Jennifer Kronovet
Case Study: With (above/ground, 2015)

Information about how to purchase the chapbook directly from the publisher ($6 CAD for out-of-Canada orders, including shipping) are available here. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "With the Boy, Inside the Museum" by Jennifer Kronovet

With the Boy, Inside the Museum

A painting of horses charging in a war. The war is subtle but the horses aren’t. Nouns, for the boy, live in the sounds nouns make. We don’t hear the horses, but the boy makes us. Our war is silent as horseflesh armoring distance. The boy’s future war makes a sound. We imitate that sound by accident.

Jennifer Kronovet
Case Study: With (above/ground, 2015)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Father Tongue" by Jennifer Kronovet

Father Tongue

Each issue of Blade Magazine describes a man and how he came to be a person of knives. There are veins of metal in rock and in a family and in one person’s diorama. Some is mined for weaponry, some for language. Some knives are photographed like ladies in a nudy magazine, hovering above place without a human to hold them. Their blades are reflectionless like the back of my mind when I look. Blade at the dining room table, in the bathroom, on the couch, throughout my striated landscape leading to leaving.

The language of knives includes: quenching, hilt, damascus, hollow ground, skeleton handle, balisong. “Song of Myself” has: loveroot, souse, killing-clothes, chant of dilation, fallen architecture. Whitman was too late to sow me as an orchard for harvesting the hybrid fruits of our thinking. I had held my father’s knives and could feel how they fit him, and he was multitudes to me by being different from himself. Whitman was merely me, but different. I am still waiting for my mind to fit a language the way a knife can fit my hand. I want to wield both together to cut my past down, the opposite of screaming.

Jennifer Kronovet
Case Study: With (above/ground, 2015)

Friday, 24 June 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: Jennifer Kronovet's "With the Boy, Outside"

I was very impressed with Jennifer Kronovet's chapbook, Case Study: With: this is the first of four prose poems I'll be reprinting. Thanks to Jennifer for permission and to her publisher, rob mclennan, for bringing her work to my attention.

With the Boy, Outside

Twigs collect by the side of the path. Wild flowers space themselves. Pigeons respond instantly to being chased. If I look through the boy—to loss, to a future, to else—nothing is enough to hold the ground into one place. This is your foot, I say. But people don’t talk like that. I watch people gather their faces into thoughts I can’t hear. This is the space between us, I say waving my hands to make the distance.

Jennifer Kronovet
Case Study: With (above/ground, 2015)

Friday, 17 June 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: Sarah Burgoyne's "The Basket Waltz"

The Basket Waltz

It was around that time of year when everyone decides to take their chances. The baker transformed into a cut of meat, and the funeral was solemn, the casket oddly-shaped. We hadn't learned any better, but then again, there was no one there to teach us. Asleep in the wild country, we watched the moths go up in flame.

Lay me down, prophets, and let me watch you read into things. It only took a couple of years to learn that the oracle can be sometimes wrong. One day, I taught her how to French braid her hair and from then on, braids became powerful symbols of widows. She told her secrets only to the dog, and when she died, the dog ran off into the woods, taking our bones with him.

When my daughter returns as an old woman, she’ll take up country singing. I’ll take up lodging in a nearby tree next to several spiders. We’ll spend our last days comparing webs, though I never will feel at the centre of mine. When my daughter passes, I’ll spin each note of "Walkin' After Midnight" into perfect white skeins of yarn.

Sarah Burgoyne
A Precarious Life on the Sea
above/ground press, 2016

To order a copy of A Precarious Life on the Sea, send cheques ($4 CAD, with $2 additional for postage outside Canada) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1H 7M9 or paypal at