prose poems

Virginia Ave.

January 28, 2011      James Hayes Nichols
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Fauborg Rousseauian Paris late afternoon cloudroll, Atlanta-style- dense light falling in rays down upon the tops of the plateglass banks and equity firms and Elton John condos and silly moustrap buildings- gracefully soulless- made profound by the tumbling light of God, parting the dense milk gray clouds as when Moses parted His sea (God’s sea). But we get ahead of ourselves. We forget to brake when looking skyward and smash the Audis in front, we forget to watch the WALK/DON’T WALK and are nearly smashed by oncoming Audis, we the prey, they the hunters. We can’t pray because God took them, God fed them their dreams, God spitshined their Audis and we were left holding the bucket, we were left to cross the streets in locomotion, humanly sad and not- unfortunately- felinely cat-like, otherwise we’d be driving the Audis and not stuck like chuts at the crosswalk of desire…

But that sky! It rolls like heaven over the rooftops, the bums and the Beltline. It rolls like heaven above the hilltops and the Marta stops, like heaven atop imperfection atop burning clay in the coldsnap frost air- were you there? We were there, watching crashing cars, crashing hearts ascending to the heaven rolling atop the rooftops- don’t stop to look, only feel- it’s so close we can touch it, but do we dare?

Jaywalker, Jaded

January 16, 2011      James Hayes Nichols
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She’s past caring- -that hit, blunt impact, that lights-out tumult, bones breaking and bending under in ways unnatural, the ringing of concussion blood in bloody ears, the nauseated screams of onlookers, the “ohfuckohfuckohfuckohgodohshitohgodohfuck” of the lifeshattered driver, sirens, ambulance gurneys hard as steel, red lights, reporters, the fever heat of lost blood, swimming thoughts, the beep and boop of the life support, crackly static on CB radios, EMTs going about their nasty business as casual as burger flippers flipping burgers (she looking like hamburger) talking about “how bout dem Braves” and the chicks they’d take home from bars if they ever worked the hours that allowed them to go to bars or made the money to buy chicks drinks at bars, and the questions, and the searching of pockets for ID, any form of ID, and next-of-kin phone numbers, and tired cynical doctors saying “dumb bitches’ll never learn, I gotta coffee up,” and no insurance, and another hit on Grady, and the strain, and the burdens of brothers, of family, and of no work, and wheelchairs, and the antiseptic stink like waiting rooms only stinkier, and vomit, and piss, and improperly-inserted catheters, and that phone call, O God that phone call, and funerals, and arms raised and voices raised and wailing, and black caskets, and brown earth, and shovels, and the gravelly sweat of gravediggers, and worms, and decay, and another one bites the dust – – she just needs to get to the next corner; her friends are coffeedating and waiting and she’s LATE.


January 12, 2011      James Hayes Nichols
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God-enforced exile indoors, going wonky gazing at icy sludge streets and slate skies and snow-covered roofs, same view unchanging three days and counting, no letup possible, slate eyes in leather chair procrastination purgatory, mental muscles lax and flabby now flexed for first time since last week and firing! firing! coffee the fuel and hack prose the ammunition.

Who knows how fast the fillup of this icy exile notebook? The blacktop of adrenalized mind coated in ice but the mind temp freezing in January mode and no DOT icetrucks to salt the stagnation. Our fathers called it cobwebs and implied the musty crazy Aunty attic of their own special stagnations but we ice babies know it’s the iced road leading nowhere and nowhere to go or get to without sliding/slipping/sliding back to nothing nowhere.

Lucky are they who got away, out of the icy fort of inept, to the shores of non-compulsory complacency while we in the fort top the ramparts gazing over vistas of red snow, red ice as far as can be seen and the pointed arrow migration of birds smarter than we heading south to phony freedom warmth not a state (of the Union) anyways. An easy cliche- the bird flying away- but where are we, in the end, where are we going and will we stop when we arrive (easy cliche pt. II)? Perhaps it’s a pent-up fever dream, perhaps the feeling flees when we abilify the autos, drive- fly- the distance to the ramparts and state our business to the lackey doorguard and move freely onward. Perhaps it is the knowledge, merely, of that special freedom that comes with unfettered options, never using but a token but complacent with the knowledge that the options exist, at our disposal, like a bazillion channels and HD and Netflix all at the touch of those ergonomic silver wands even though it’s mostly Sportscenter and Adult Swim and a bit of CNN to satisfy our be-a-factor conciousness now iced over and forced to stagnate- only temporary but really only temporary?

Where is that DOT of the mind?

the first day was fun and snow and hot chocolate and snowmen and happy dogs sliding about on the ice and silly beer runs and improvised sledding

Where is that DOT of the mind?

but today is the second day and fireside gloom and glom over surly lost paydays and bursting to leave and missing the ordered daytime of the non-ice so-called daily nightmare of most of our mediocrities

Where is that DOT of the mind?

the third day we’ll be existential in our itch, a million redneck Jean-Paul Sartres staring down the nausea of involuntary exile from that reassuring sadness of the everyday, paying bills and holding tongues and biting lips and eating shitty MSG Chinese and hating bosses and credit card woe-is-me worry but- Goddamn!- we were free! flying free! to be sad, to be mediocre, weren’t we?


Weren’t we? The ice is melting and now we’re all of us drowning in clearbrown slush, and now we’re all of us yelling “give us back our exile!” but the telephone lines are down and nobody’s listening, anyway.

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