Two prose poems by Lisa J. Cihlar

The Dairy Farmer Told Me His Cows were Coming into Season

In clouds of chokecherry blossoming spring, the English sparrows flew right into the bluebird boxes and pecked through the skulls of the nestlings. This is a true thing that I regret. In the humid mildew of summer you play Thelonious Monk. It is too loud and I can’t think. It might surprise you to know that I don’t like that music. I want too, but I regret that I don’t. His middle name was Sphere. For that I am grateful. I am happy to see that you have brought home the seagulls to graze the lawn. We must remain respectable or they might send us back to Budapest. I don’t like goulash. The dobos torta though, I could eat it every day. The hogshead of wine is delivered in the fall. Turned on its side, the goats like to balance, while the cows watch from the feedlot next door. I saw you dance on it at midnight one full moon ago. I might have joined you, regret that I did not. The man who took me to the ocean was so old his face was collapsed. But his blues guitar—oh it was a wonder. I have only seen the one ocean, and the trip over the mountains in winter through avalanche country froze my ears. That is why I can no longer hear you. It is something I regret. And I wonder if one ocean is enough. The Danube might as well count. I want you to know that I was packing away the hot weather clothes and I accidentally put your brother somewhere. Now I can’t find him and I regret that I didn’t mention it sooner.


If you are from a place where they grow fruit on trees, such as apples or cherries, you can walk into an orchard and get lost. If it is spring everything will be bloom and bee and buzz. If you are surrounded by trees that follow the swale of the land there will be times when you try to look down a row and see where you came from and it will be lost. You will turn in circles and the kaleidoscope will make you dizzy. You will wonder about the young orchard owner’s daughter who carried a frayed rope into the heart and clambered into the highest crotch of an apple tree and hung herself. Neighbors remember the chainsaw running all day and night for a full week and a day and the bonfires stuffing the sky with black. They waited an entire season before they used garden hoses to wash the soot from their siding.

Lisa J. Cihlar’s poems have been published in The Pedestal Magazine, Green Mountains Review, In Posse Review, Bluestem, and The Prose-Poem Project. One of her poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, “The Insomniac’s House,” is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She lives in rural southern Wisconsin.