What did she think about when she stumbled alone into the woods?
Her red dress?
His hard blue suit tangoing on a parquet floor?
The handsome art historian she’d left behind?
Or did she consider the endless parade of diapers and jammed toddler car seats?
Or her husband’s mindless groping in the darkest hours of the night?
Perhaps all she wanted was the possibility of a simple cup of chai in an empty house.
He told the police they had argued about McDonald’s after loading up the van.
It was their anniversary, and they’d been camping with their four young children.
He said they were a happy couple and rarely fought, but McDonald’s was not “acceptable,” and she should’ve known that.
She should’ve been happy to make chicken salad sandwiches with Wonder Bread, but instead she inexplicably and quietly entered the woods.
He couldn’t leave the children behind to follow her, could he?
Three days later they found her in an airport hotel, clenching a one-way ticket to Las Vegas.
She’d had her nails done, and the room was strewn with Happy Meal boxes and half-eaten, room-service entrees.
She swore she’d go home, eventually.
She had even saved the McToys for her children, whom she loved and missed terribly.
But they couldn’t make her go home, could they?
Certainly, she hadn’t broken any laws.
—From the author’s collection of prose poems Old Man Howling at the
Moon (MadHat Press, 2018); appears here with his permission.
is professor emeritus of creative writing and children’s literature at Providence College, as well as a poet, novelist, and editor, most recently of The Definitive Anthology of Prose Poetry: A Cast-Iron Aeroplane That Can Actually Fly (MadHat Press, 2019). He also founded and curated The Prose Poem: An International Journal from 1992 through 2000, edited The Best of The Prose Poem: An International Journal (White Pine Press, 2000), and served as a contributing editor for American Poetry Review, Web del Sol, and Slope.
His second collection of prose poems, Miracles & Mortifications (2001) won the 2001 James Laughlin Award from The Academy of American Poets. His other books include Old Man Howling at the Moon (prose poems; MadHat Press, 2018), What Happened (novel; Front Street Books, 2007), Eduardo & “I” (prose poems; White Pine Press, 2006), I’m a Man (short stories; 2003), Pretty Happy! (prose poems; 1997), and Love Poems for the Millennium (chapbook; 1998).
Johnson’s poems and stories have appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, Denver Quarterly, Field, Indiana Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, The Iowa Review, and The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry. In addition to the 2001 James Laughlin Award mentioned above, he has received Creative Writing Fellowships from Rhode Island Council on the Arts (2010 and 2002), The Paterson Prize for What Happened (2008), and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1999).
Author’s website: http://www.peterjohnsonauthor.com