The Prose Poem

Charles H. Webb


               He knows it's trouble when the cards containing questions--Sports: What boxer was called the Winnetka Widgeon? Geography: What is the per minute charge to call the International Date Line?--leap from their maroon box and scatter like quail chicks flushed in the woods.
               He knows he should pursue them--everyone else is, knocking over the host's thousand-dollar lamps and fifteen-hundred-dollar vase, cracking skulls on the five-thousand-dollar coffee table made of marble so thick it took four weightlifters to hump it in.
               But he recalls a field, color of katydids, the Easter he was four. Other kids scattered like quail (big enough to knock him down), then returned, baskets heaped with red and blue and golden eggs, while he limped back with what Daddy called "deer droppings" . . .
               Question cards by now have broken through the ring of propriety that guards the hosts' bedroom.
               How many affairs have you had?
               Do you thrash or lie still when you masturbate?
               Candidly assess your partner's genitals?
               Players groan, knocked senseless by the one-two of Embarrassment and Truth.
               He watches the game board's butterfly-wings open and close, open and close, each stroke blowing him farther from the center circle where the winners stand.