Marcus Slease ~ Five Prose Poems

Lost in Space

The Chinese bar is full of fruit machines. So many peo­ple are play­ing the fruit machines. I sit at a table warm­ing my hands with warm wine. A sex doll comes strut­ting towards me. Mind if I join, they say. Sorry I’m leav­ing, I say. They turn on the ani­mal jam. Everyone jams to the ani­mal jam. The sex doll holds out its hand and curt­seys. The sex doll has been to charm school. It is hard to resist a curt­sey. We dance our way through the legs of the locals. I’d like to take you to the movies but they don’t let you bring your own snacks, says the sex doll. Is this a pick up line or a fac­tu­al state­ment, I think. I think about eat­ing. It is the strongest kind of con­nec­tion. Animals eat each oth­er. We are animal/not ani­mal. Somewhere between eat­ing and being eat­en is the no man’s land I am look­ing for. We walk the no man’s land across the big bridge into the float­ing world. We wedge out with cheese wedges. The cheese wedge is the best wedge. It wedges open the mouth pangs. The grey lights mean lost in space. My lights are turn­ing grey. I’m lost in space. Im often lost in space. But what is space. It is a cold place. Zeros add some­thing to noth­ing. It is the dif­fer­ence between a lit­tle and a lot. Absolute zero is cold and space is even cold­er. Back home, I tell Siri to play The Cure. The Cure is play­ing Friday Im in Love. Today is Friday. Am I in love?



Winnie takes the taxi. It winds up the hills over­look­ing the trout pond. The front desk woman, dressed to the nines, hands her the microchip wrapped in plas­tic. For the secret lift, she says. Take the horse­shoe to the left, she says. She takes the horse­shoe but for­gets to hook left. She ends up back out­side with a roar­ing foun­tain. The foun­tain changes colours from red to blue to yel­low. Transfixed with the foun­tain. I can’t get stuck at the foun­tain, thinks Winnie. She yanks her­self back to the horse­shoe. Spins left. The secret lift. She slides the plas­tic. Pokes the three. It moves down. Opens into a room full of warm tow­els. The swim­ming area is closed due to the virus, says the sporty woman. Yes, says Winnie. Winnie slips out of her six lay­ers of win­ter cloth­ing. I’ve nev­er worn a thong, thinks Winnie. Better not get a hum­mer, thinks Winnie, slip­ping under the tow­el on the mas­sage table. Before long she is slid­ing around on the table. Her bones too close to her mus­cles. I am becom­ing a new per­son. I am becom­ing a new per­son. She says this over and over. Hoping for some­thing. Trying to slide into the pop­ping and crunch­ing. We are head­ing into the mead­ows, says the tape play­er. Breathe into the mead­ows, says the tape play­er. Before long she is smelling damp grass. Even with the virus mask on her face. It is damp grass. She is mov­ing away from the city into the coun­try. Little streams to steam out the stress from the body. It’s the Rhine, says the tape play­er. The Rhine is coun­try, thinks Winnie. And the stones, thinks Winnie. Where there is a riv­er, theres a stone, thinks Winnie. The wild west gal­lops into the pic­ture. Im the Rhinestone Cowboy, thinks Winnie.Rackety click rack­ety click rack­ety click. Her body is put­ty. All the world’s a hos­pi­tal and the patients keep want­i­ng to change beds, said Baudelaire.


Squirrels in the Attic

He used to shave up from my col­lar bone but a woman in Turkey showed him the downs­lope. Closer cuts, she said. It was clos­er but not close enough. Here, said the woman in Turkey, wield­ing the razor. Down, up, left, right. Your grain is every­where, she said. It was hard to direct the razor. You’ve got to posi­tion your face for the future. Willy had the chops. But he didn’t have the posi­tion. The squir­rels scur­ried in the attic. He turned on the tele­vi­sion. He drowned out the sounds, but then they grew loud­er. A man knocked on the door. Yes, he said. It’s me, said the voice. He let the voice into the liv­ing room. The voice squeezed his shoul­der. They plopped down on the sofa. Cathedrals were on the tele­vi­sion. I’m blind, said the voice. Put your hand on my hand, said the voice. He put his hand on the hand and they drew the cathe­dral from the tele­vi­sion. The two hands mov­ing up and down and around. Stone by stone on the paper into a giant some­thing. What do we have, said the voice. Is it any good? But then the squir­rels returned with their scratch­ing and scrap­ing. The voice went out the door. I’ve got to take care of these squir­rels, he thought. He slipped up into the attic. The squir­rels had melt­ed into the floor­board. Only their teeth were vis­i­ble. Biting into the hard wood­en floorboards



How is your mojo, says Willy. My mojo is medi­um, says Winnie. No more stinky thinker, says Willy. Hell is high waters, says Winnie. We are still swim­ming, says Willy. They enter the for­est near Manhattan Estate in Katowice. I was born here, says Winnie. A rustling in the dis­tance. The boars are hav­ing their pic­nic. They love the ways of the foliage. You can­not win the gold­en boar. The boars are off-lim­its. The moon saucers the sky. Ive some­ones hair in my back pock­et, says Winnie. Witch hazel, says Willy. It is good to feed the omens, says Winnie. Let us paint the doll face, says Willy. A lit­tle rouge and shad­ow. They come upon the stones. The stone peo­ple moved stones into tidy col­lec­tions. Stones are full of spir­its. They mea­sure the way the light cracks. We are peo­ple of the stone. All that for­ti­fied cal­ci­um. Rich deposits for the earth goddess.



On the win­dowsill three small ele­phants. Their haunch­es point­ed toward us for good luck. On the bal­cony a plas­tic crow, plus spikes, to keep away the pigeons. The seas spas­tic foam has soaked the side­walks. Before long, we are pouch surf­ing. It is good to be here among the pouch­es. Everyone needs a good pouch even if you already have one. You can deposit into a pouch. A lit­tle or plen­ty. There is a lot to deposit when you are young and less and less as you wiz­an yr way into the elder­ly. Weed whack­ing starts ear­ly. The more you wack the more it grows. Chutes too nar­row? Widen the chute. We slide into our pouch­es to bur­row for winter.

Born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Marcus Slease has made his home in Turkey, Poland, Italy, South Korea, the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom – expe­ri­ences that inform his sur­re­al-absurd sto­ries. His writ­ing has been trans­lat­ed into Danish and Polish and has been nom­i­nat­ed for the Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction, and Best of the Net. His sto­ries, poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in var­i­ous antholo­gies and mag­a­zines in Europe and North America, such as Tin House, Fence, Poetry, and The Lincoln Review. His lat­est book of prose poems, Puppy, is avail­able from Beir Bua Press, his nov­el in microfic­tions, Never Mind the Beasts, is avail­able from Dostoyevsky Wannabe and his book of sur­re­al­ist prose poems, The Green Monk, is avail­able from Boiler House Press. He comes from a work­ing class back­ground and cur­rent­ly teach­es high school in Barcelona. Find out more at: Never Mind the Beasts.