Not Prosaic Nightmare – “Clammed Up”


The wonderful DVerse Poets Pub, hosted by Stu McPherson and the very energetic and diversely prolific Brian Miller, has a Poetics prompt on “nightmare” today.  Below is sort of a prose poem that came to mind; above my drawing.

Clammed up

She is pregnant. It seems that he had something on his finger, something bad. Her mom once joked about an aunt who’d gotten pregnant from her leg.  It must have been something like that.

The worst part is that she’ll have to tell now.  The worst part is that they’ll know.

She turns her bare back to the mirror, craning head over shoulder, though it’s easy enough to see, her eyes lodged in a crack in the ceiling.

The skin is smooth as ever between the shoulder blades, until it isn’t.  The pregnancy shows itself in the sprout of green-white stems.

They are tubular, waxen, like those on a potted plant that sits above the kitchen sink, the dirty dishes.  Only now the sprouts have grown into vines, long tangled ones that dangle from the skin around her spine; and now they are blossoming, clam shell blossoms that pull and weight them.

She knows they can’t truly be clam shells–each holds, within its crust, a cluster of soft violet petals, a yellow stamen–and yet, they are ribbed, hard, grey.

She thinks to cut the vines off.   At least, then, she could wear a t-shirt.

With scissors? A knife?

But she is too scared to cut.  And what about the grove of naked stems?  The dry hard roots?  She pictures a bristled section of lawn, the again and again of her dad’s mower.

Better to uproot.

But how can she tug them out?  They are embedded in her own skin.  She is too scared, too frightened.

And what about the baby?

As she walks from the mirror, she feels the vines following her, the clam shells thumping against her back.

She thinks of tin cans following the car of newlyweds, tin cans and shaving cream and big lipstick kisses.  She went to a wedding once; she was the flower girl.

But the vines are not like tin cans, newlyweds.  They do not clang, but rustle; for no matter how hard the shells themselves might be, they hit bare skin.

(As always, all rights reserved.  And as always, if you’re in the mood for something more humorous, check out my comic novel, NOSE DIVE,  available on Kindle for just 99 cents and in print for just a bit more.)  
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17 Comments on “Not Prosaic Nightmare – “Clammed Up””

  1. brian miller Says:

    dang k…surreal….she will have to tell is a fear itself…and the vines in the flesh and figuring out how to pull them off…some really nice break outs in this as the tin cans of newlyweds…being a flower girl….love all the detail…

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Whoa. Now that’s a nightmare–and it hangs together and is absolutely terrifying because it has the logic(or illogic) or dreams, where impossible things happen and are simply accepted. I can feel my skin crawling at the etiolated stems and the again and again slash of the mower. Not to mention the clam flowers. Fine and scary writing, K.

  3. This was so engaging- had me hooked. The surreal nightmarish imagery- the fusion of flesh and the vines- almost bio mechanical. Maybe a metaphor for things not dealt with, issues not confronted – some things take a while to heal once they are finally ‘pulled out’…enjoyed this immensely! Such great great visions but completely emotive.

  4. I like it…love the metaphor of the vines and stems, and sounds of tin cans clanging…terrifying thoughts for sure ~

  5. Mary Says:

    This is a nightmare, one that will not be over for this person soon! Powerful fare!

  6. Dang! Terrific write, K! So matter factly unreal and real at the same time. Love it!

  7. The worst part is that she’ll have to tell now. The worst part is that they’ll know.

    Socked me in the stomach and kept hitting hard from there. There’s a depth of psychological truth and emotional rawness to this one, well done!

  8. Semaphore Says:

    A prose poem of surreal intensity, welding together dreamlike images and the real, to form a terrifying whole.

  9. Chazinator Says:

    I love this. Truly terrifying, perhaps moreso for an underlying humor in spots (I think). The nightmares that pregnancy brings should be cataloged somewhere. My daughter is now pregnant, and she just told me that was really scary for her. I can’t imagine how this awkwardness that comes with pregnancy, or the thought of it, must make one feel. It’s a horrifying idea to become something other than human, or to have our body seemingly desecrated or mutilated by events beyond out control. There’s the pain of such transgression but there’s also the fact of what we believe makes us so attractive and socially acceptable.

  10. claudia Says:

    just read also through the comments and i like that you have it more open to interpretation, capturing the surreal feeling…loved it k. and while reading i saw your face…so very cool that we met…and thanks again for that lovely dinner as well…what a treat

  11. Luke Prater Says:

    yikes. Vivid and brutal in places

  12. beckykilsby Says:

    That vine’s good – at showing the way something gets a grip and can’t be removed. It really is a troubling piece. Glued I was..

  13. zongrik Says:

    the veins are not like tin cans -> you sure got into the head of the psycopath on that one

    semantic feeling

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