Six Prose Poems by Adam Crittenden

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY

A salty cool wind crept into my mouth and made me fall to the sand.

Why am I here?

I made a sand angel to pass the time while I tried to answer my own questions. Sometimes children would come up to me and kick my side with their tiny feet. I heard their parents tell them to leave me alone. It was as if I was a crazed dog in the parents’ eyes—but I couldn’t blame them.

Later that day an adult jabbed my side with his sharp big toe. He asked me if I was alright, and I told him I was more alright than he was. I don’t know why I said that, but he accepted it and continued to wander the coastline, not looking back.

I had the urge to walk into the ocean but instead jogged home and slept for a day and a half.

The next time I went to the beach I made myself laugh because I imagined kicking everyone who cooked in the sun.


VALLEY CITY, NORTH DAKOTA

One view of the world is that pain exists in the mind and nowhere else—a spectrum of senses pushing forcefully onto ours, trying to enter at any slight hole or tear.

Sometimes it gets the better of me and I try to crush the brains of annoying drivers with my mind. I believe that I fail every time not because I can’t crush brains with my mind, but because a subconscious part of me stops the self so I don’t feel pain after the feat is done.

So, life would be painful if we all crushed one another’s brain.


HENDERSON, NEVADA

When we sat in the café and I snuck a swig of tequila from a cheap Vegas flask, you asked me what my American dream was.

“Isn’t it the same as yours?” I asked

You said no, got up, pushed in your chair, and went to the airport and I never heard from you again.

Every interaction I had since that time has been a strange abomination of connection. When I drive by the airport on my way to work, I pretend I am on a flight—but I can’t come up with a destination for my make-believe trip.


SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA

At first we would kill for this land, but something changed. You and I were tied to each other, each playing tug-o-war with our respective slipknots.

Now we find incandescent firefly larva and feed on them, hoping to turn our bellies into bright-green light-bulbs. This is the only way we know how to love one another.

Our bellies will not turn, but maybe the next generation’s will.


BATH, MAINE

“These aren’t your hot dog buns?”

“No,” I said. But for whatever reason I felt the urge to buy them. I could eat hot dogs today, but then I would have to buy hot dogs.

I ended up buying the buns but didn’t leave the line to buy hot dogs. When I got home, I ate three plain buns on my couch as I read things on the internet. A quote in front of me: “We are not afraid to discover that we are mortal, but rather that we are immortal.”


PARIS, OKLAHOMA

Some crows freaked out when the road-kill heap they were pecking at combusted from a cocktail of heat and gasses.

Cleaning up the meaty wreckage crossed my mind, but making things better was never my strength.

I have two friends, maybe three, and I have no idea where they are.

Two crows came back, cawing and flapping, searching the mass like grave robbers.


Profile: Adam Crittenden

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