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Prose Poem
SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Geometry Makes You Tender;

by James Ellenberger

the will is broken by degrees; the world appears to be a tumbler; when we begin to feel safe, there’s a little click and then poof fifty-eight are dead; there’s now a little click whenever we dream; we want death on very specific terms; a surprising inheritance of emeralds and ivory, an unbreakable thread to bind the Book of Faces; we want desire cloven of its cumbersome consequences and prerequisites; we believe that any miraculous wound ought to be plumbed rather than attended to; that there’s time yet to prepare the poultice of glowing coals but who’s to say what melts steel beams or topples the soul one story at a time; there’s solace in wiping the blade clean on one’s own pant leg; while no longer in practice, caking dung on a wound still ignites all of our humors; we fight fire with ashes; unusable, the feed wheel laps up knuckle and leather alike; a sleeve, like a slip of tongue, is all it takes to break bones in the wrought-iron loom; purchase the Lyre app, and later, the Stake For All Occasions DLC; the world burns while we perfect the art of opening and closing windows, rehearsing an epoch-long indecision to leap; even as embers nuzzle the jambs; even as the square fills with rubberneckers and the heavy doors slam shut; whose turn is it to hang from the granite angel’s neck; they say, oh, a heretic, how lovely; they say, how on earth with such a little neck; fire ants, on the other hand, join legs to form a raft when the levees break and all hope seems lost; no ropes or pyres required; when the colony begins to wash away, their first instinct is to hold each other.


—Honorable Mention, the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017; first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018) and appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

James Ellenberger

is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati, where he’s an associate editor for Cincinnati Review. His poems have appeared in Apalachee Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Passages North, Sou’wester, The American Journal of Poetry, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Yemassee Journal, and elsewhere. His chapbook, The Needlework of Their Theft, was a finalist in Iron Horse Review’s 2014 Single Author Competition.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury