We are pleased to announce that the winner of our National Poetry Month Prose Poem Contest is Seth Newmeyer for his poem “Bird Shit on a Car Crash, I-V.” Thank you to everyone who submitted their wonderful prose poems. Look out for more writing contests in the fall.
Bird Shit on a Car Crash, I-V
Once, you find a flipped one, fresh, wheels spinning still, still dripping rubber hiss. Havoc reeks. There goes the last flatulent creak of metal that had just been flame, the dented pop of swell and shrink like sap in logs. The roast glows your soft red stuff, the mist to floating spray of blood, unless it’s just the taillight dim, those filaments somehow missed and spared. Exhaust blows back through black air, cloudy, waving after all the rest. Smoke signals blink from its upturned base, its crumpled Ouroboros spear.
The coarse sand, sea-glass, the crumbling trail, the wet snow of window-shatter pools below some out-stuck limbs. They twist into a stranger code, a denser network of tangle within. They zipped in cars from thing to thing, and then their spines and veins unzipped, ribs disrupted, organs juiced. Shiny, furrowed bags unfold en route to close on them with vague hands, wrinkled gloves of something stretchy, cheap, some ghost and shadow to protected skin. They’ll be taken to the hospital first, regardless, for hearses have no sirens, and aren’t out this late, or early. But the bodies aren’t there, they’re messages, and they cannot be bagged from you or buried, no amount of earth can cover them or ashes spread, not without your head now too.
You imagine the crash as solipsism, as caravans that swooped from empty night with quick silence, one by one, each never meeting any other. You see the seats stuffed overfull, and filled in heavy whiteness: headlights, skin…. And then you see the teens, waxy as the moon, already almost rotting under a stretched flesh that shines their path; they are surely zombies in a death-drive now, just passengers to that. There’s no loudness of collision, no collusion of two images, too quiet, who remain just that, juxtaposed with no transition. There’s only muddy blood and other chunks, and the projected memory of something else, revealed by this oozing of corrective ink. The stain-blanket shows what’s invisible in blank upholstery, interior leather, pulling it to surface from within, to bloom and drip. It drops up, as it’s upside-down: the roof is flooding with effluvium. The ones that left their seatbelts on are still suspended, hanging, mostly. The Bedouins are of course extinct, but maybe these were their last traces, gone once more, become another Humpty-Dumpty, a Gordian not again.
You’re standing watch over an absence, guarding what from what? Waiting for the sirens and their wailing wall of light…. You’re no voyeur, no doctor either, so they may need to whisper, croak, crook their stubs at you, until your ear will come. They’ll tell you something urgent, or who to tell it to, before whatever else. You lean closer. You see a clouded sight-ball, sperm-like, floating alone in the gut-mung pool, trailing cartilage of optic nerve, ropy gristle, stringy fat. Its dilation blackness looks like pigeon crap, and you gaze into its reflection: it is their life that flashes before your eyes at the end, and crystallizes into fractals we will never understand, the spider-webs of windshield sheen, the splintering you watch them through. Others must have done this anciently, protecting somethings they could never truly see.
The soft glow of suburban dark, humming a dirty orange, flickers up and down the road, but we’re between those cones of bright. Carrier pigeons flutter by and drop their messages for us, letters that flap and fly in breeze’s breath, in globs, couriers that pop from nothing; they career from blackness, and then back. It’s a sculpture, almost, not a text: a surface that’s its words for us, from some shade above and gone, darker than the dark. The scripture sputters. You can see them, still alive, pale corpses—kids and birds—dodging the dropped lines that others send, stringing, blind. Now there’s only ash, which the sky sighs everywhere, blown away like dry, dry paint, like pure dead dye. The canvas swoops into the empty silence of the night. Shade envelops shade, and fades away with it. You yawn. You walk off into the rising day, and shut their eyes, taking the one that has no lid, no head, soaking through your pocket, drying to it, clung.