2 PROSE POEMS
I could grind boys to industrial rock in steel factories, cut gristle from old creeds with my hips but secrets never passed my lips like those Casbah Camels, menthol samples pushed on girls in nightclubs, girls with gooseflesh and snow on the shoulders of their tank tops mechanical bulls between their legs and flies buzzing around raw wounds. We must have smoked a hundred boxes. They were nerve blocks in a world of wires and caustic paste, men fighting to erase our sharper edges, praying our middle fingers would disappear. I should have yelled I should have screamed I should have told. But I’m forty now. I know how Durga defeated the Buffalo Demon. I might not have a sword or a bell, a noose or conch shell, and dammit I’m still addicted to stories and smoke but my horns are mighty. They can make waste. So you’ve conquered the cosmos? Try me.
[Editor's note: "Fat Tuesday" is the English translation of the French name "Mardi Gras."]
Being evangelical, there’s the off chance he doesn’t know the significance of this day on the liturgical calendar, what being shriven means, that girls sometimes show boobs for plastic beads. He doesn’t know about ashes, or adults who give up sex and beer and steak and write sad funny blog posts about Sylvia Plath, who didn’t make it through February. All he knows is my daughter has stolen his letterman jacket, run upstairs to the study so he can’t leave. All he knows is she will give him the jacket his mother, a nurse, worked overtime to buy or surrounded by shelves of old books and unaware of anything but long dark hair he will lean in, give her his palmer’s lips. And she will absolve him for everything he has done and left undone, what he has read and (mostly) not read, for the way he’ll play Fortnite during a lockdown they can’t know will happen, forget to call, then send twenty red emoji hearts in the morning.
Originally from New York’s Mohawk Valley, Bethany Bowman has lived and taught in Indiana for the past decade. Her work has appeared in Nimrod, Apple Valley Review, and The Lascaux Review, among others, and her first collection of poems, Swan Bones, was published in 2018 (Wiph and Stock).