Prose poem: Smells Like Winning

Photo by Takemaru Hirai on Unsplash

In the winter of 2018-19, I walked by a cemetery and crematorium to catch my bus.  Dragging my knuckles home after an unsatisfying day, uphill no less, pass the body markers of others, and the rush of evening traffic. —These are moments poets DREAM of!  I am thankful for the times we walk among metaphors.

With a 45 minute wait for the bus, I recorded memory of my migration “Smells Like Winning” in the form of what I call Spoken Free Verse. It is a writing exercise; the challenge is to compose a prose poem in a ONE take recording.  Below is the transcript, the audio file deleted.  In October 2018, while recovering from a bike accident I posted some of the free verse transcripts and the original audio.  The poem “Smells Like Winning” seemed too dark and I was hesitant to share that side of me at the time.  Please, don’t be frightened, remember some pungent truths are blown away simply by the scent of a cinnamon candle.

Smells like winning

It’s seven minutes after five and I’m sitting at the 540 bus stop on Woburn.  Its a loud, busy road connecting Alabama and Lakeway. The UPS and Post Office trucks clank by with chains on to help maneuver around the back roads that still have ice and snow. I have a 45 minutes wait for the next bus. The sun is setting somewhere behind me. Dusk officially starts.

Looking down I notice the heel of the black winter hose gave out today, a Thursday.  It couldn’t hold itself together for another day. I imagine it was that hard strut from the fax machine that did it in.  Friday marks the end of my first week; a new job with a new bus schedule. 

If I wanted to, I could walk up the hill past the cemetery and crematorium to the bus on Lakeway, takes 26 minutes.  If I did want to walk there it shaves 15 minutes off my commute home. But I don’t want to. Yesterday I did that, walked up the hill to Lakeway.  Hiked up that sidewalk with bumpy ice-slush and old snow beside the rushing cars set out like hunting dogs that haven’t eaten in weeks seeking a sniff of a fox. 

Yesterday I walked up the hill.  I noticed forgotten gravestones deep into the tall trees where the lawnmower can’t reach.  The stones are small, dark, gray, crumbling. A noisy creek snakes around the bottom of a ravine.  I stop to listen. The crematorium comes into view by the stoplight. Stagnant cold air holds a blue haze over the building, but there is no smell of wood burning.  The contemporary style building sits on the busy corner of Lakeway and Woburn. It took me a while to remember what they do there. I keep walking faithfully towards my bus stop thinking about the smoke as I get closer.  As I walked into and under it, around the traffic light, hairpin to the left 

My eyes weep in the wind.
I worked hard this week.
Rebuilding my life.
Breathing hard up this steep hill.
Taking in the smoke of the ones who lived before
filling my lungs with foreign moments

#

Poem: Island Winter

Fall is over
Frost is setting in
Clear sky or cloudy
Ice will be found in the morning
Alone
Quiet
No birds
No visitors
The ocean is colder
The beach is empty
A gull stands watch
On a beach wood wall
Solitude
Peace
Breath seen
Waves heard
…it is winter

South Beach, San Juan Island, from the bluff
by
Shannon P Laws

***

Winter Prayer

This morning the sky changed.  The wind came from a different direction than what I was used to, catching me by surprise and creating a sense of curiosity within me.  The trees I walked under moved and swayed to the song of the wind, making for a lovely dance.  The wind combed threw the branches and low lying bushes to grab up the dead and recently fallen, blowing them around in whirlwinds.

A curious thing to watch the wind.  It’s true you cannot see IT but only what it DOES.  My skin grows wrinkled and dry by it; my hair lifts and twirls falling into my eyes.  “Don’t look at me, just feel me” it says, “I’ve come to wash off that which is dead and refresh you for a cold winter, to prepare you for a new spring.  Your days of summer lying in a warm breeze will return, but first you must feel me against your face.  Feel me hit your heart, swooping in deeper than any soap, cleansing your soul with hope renewed.”

Hope gets us through the winter.  How sad for those in the dark age when the world seem a constant winter.  Perhaps they had forgotten what spring flowers smelt like or the hot rays of the summer sun on their face.  If winter last too long the heart will stay cold, frost bitten, hard.

Prayer
Fall wind please blow on me and release from me the dead and dying parts.  Twirl them up to the sky, lay them on the ground, churn them into soil, all that death is good for.
Take those parts from me so that I might see spring again.
I will not forget the flowers
I will not forget the summer sun.
I will not forget the green grass and the lazy days lying beside a lover

Blow wind blow!
Do your worst so that my reward will be greater!

***
Came across this poem from Winter 2011.  It’s only October but had to re-post.

Poetry: Winter Sunset

Winter Sunset
sun setting at three pm
getting ready for bed
shade drawn on 
the west window
conversation bouncing
off hard wood
spoons clink in
bowls of white
does the sun 
hear my pen 
scrape across the page
can the woman
with red hair 
hear the bubbles 
sparkle in my cup
It is implied

Poetry: Green

Green
Oh, to be the type of green
that stays green through the frost,
when the ground is white and
branches are heavy with Winter’s weight
Brown, red, orange,
the colors of fall
most greens do fade
retracting in the cold air
Freezing, or the warm summers sun
to be green in all seasons,
fresh to the touch
ever holding the color of LIFE!


Poetry: Winter Prayer

This morning the sky changed.  The wind came from a different direction than what I was used to, catching me by surprise and creating a sense of curiosity within me.  The trees I walked under moved and swayed to the song of the wind, making for a lovely dance.  The wind combed threw the branches and low lying bushes to grab up the dead and recently fallen, blowing them around in whirlwinds.

A curious thing to watch the wind.  It’s true you cannot see IT but only what it DOES.  My skin grows wrinkled and dry by it; my hair lifts and twirls falling into my eyes.  “Don’t look at me, just feel me” it says, “I’ve come to wash off that which is dead and refresh you for a cold winter, to prepare you for a new spring.  Your days of summer lying in a warm breeze will return, but first you must feel me against your face.  Feel me hit your heart, swooping in deeper than any soap, cleansing your soul with hope renewed.”

Hope gets us through the winter.  How sad for those in the dark age when the world seem a constant winter.  Perhaps they had forgotten what spring flowers smelt like or the hot rays of the summer sun on their face.  If winter last too long the heart will stay cold, frost bitten, hard.

Prayer
Fall wind please blow on me and release from me the dead and dying parts.  Twirl them up to the sky, lay them on the ground, churn them into soil, all that death is good for. 
Take those parts from me so that I might see spring again.
I will not forget the flowers
I will not forget the summer sun.
I will not forget the green grass and the lazy days lying beside a lover

Blow wind blow!
Do your worst so that my reward will be greater!

Poetry: Island Winter

Fall is over
Frost is setting in
Clear sky or cloudy
Ice will be found in the morning
Alone
Quiet
No birds
No visitors
The ocean is colder
The beach is empty
A gull stands watch
On a beach wood wall
Solitude
Peace
Breath seen
Waves heard
…it is winter