Three Prose Poems

Cashier Recognizes
Sweetheart Robber

He could wear a mask but he still needed eyeholes. Those bright blue eyes were staring right through me, as empty as the night he told me we were quits. I was just a sophomore. I was pretty then, with long flowing hair I bothered to wash every night and a joyous, carefree smile. My teeth were perfect. I guess I was young for my age. Or immature. He was the first boy I slept with, and the last I enjoyed sleeping with. He knew who I was, all right. His eyes took on that same taunting look they had when he began to pass me around to his buddies. They say now it was just about money. They say he pulled a gun on me, but he didn't need a gun.

Friday Night at Walmart
Because Ames has closed, Caldor has closed, and Sears is so family friendly there's a shrieking brat in every aisle, she's begun to spend her Friday nights at Walmart. Men working in the factories have just been paid. Some head for the nearest bar, some head home to their families. There's a bowling alley, a gas station, a race track closed for the season. And then there's Walmart. Greeted at the door by a smiling senior. She chooses one of the smaller shopping carts, since her breasts are large and she wants to offset them, not hide them. She walks slowly through the Lingerie aisle, comparing her makeup and hair to that of other women, which always builds up her self-confidence. She walks hurriedly past Jewelry and over to Sporting Goods. Bad move. So many men hanging out with men here that she expects one to give a catcall as she passes. She quickens her pace, bends over the shopping cart, hiding her breasts a bit. She heads for Hardware next, then Housewares just beyond it. The men here, she knows, will want to settle down. Some of them might even cook a bit.

The Westchester Cat Show
The Westchester Cat Show lasts all weekend. Cats parading, strutting, fluffing their tails up, holding in manicured claws. At three o'clock on Saturday every cat will return to its cage or cushion. Owners will bow their heads. There will be a moment's silence, commemorating Ginny, the schnauzer-Siberian husky mongrel named Cat of the Year in 1998. Cat owners from Long Island will share memories of cats Ginny risked her life to rescue. Most of those cats have passed away now, but people will take time to remember them as well. They will stroke the heads of the cats beside them, maybe remember a dog they had in childhood, a hunting dog who'd tunnel under the fence and prowl the neighborhood.

Rochelle Ratner

If you've any comments on these prose poems, Rochelle Ratner would be pleased to hear from you.