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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Prose Poem: 487 words
By Guy Biederman

There’s a Name for That



I can’t walk a day down the planks without seeing faces in the wood. There’s a name for it. Of course there is. There’s a name for everything we know little about...except for the name itself and the meanings we attach to it.

Kismet’s not the same as hammer. Synchronicity is not the same as this cup. Serendipity is different from the flea on Issa’s pillow where he slept near the ground where the horse took a piss, a magnificent stream, and Issa smiled and wrote a haiku but didn’t call it anything or give it a name. That came later. That’s the way I feel about the faces I see in the planks on the dock where I walk every day. Some might call it an affliction, my father called it a lazy mind, some get knowledgeable and label it Pareidolia, once thought to be a form of psychosis, but tell that to the seller on eBay who made 28 grand on a ten-year-old grilled cheese sandwich with the Virgin Mary burned onto it.


Now, experts consider the phenomena to be perfectly healthy, rest assured, a leftover trait of our evolutionary survival. Good to know. Glad they have the smug handle on it. I smile, take a photo, make a post, write a poem, and wonder...though you are the first I’ve ever told this to, whether these faces I see in the planks, in the leaves on the asphalt, in the slices of banana or chocolate chip cookie...are people I once knew reaching out from the other side, or merely the grain of wood in the 2x6 beneath my feet, map of a lifetime long ago, drawing of a life, picture of the flow, what some call chi.

I don’t know. Enigmatic resistance, smile to behold, beauty says it all without a word. Which is all a poet has, which is never enough though we never learn that until we reach the end of the page or run out of ink or watch a pelican fly low to the water herding the herring to the shallows where it’s all you can eat for those with wings...then again pelicano may just be riding the current, ancient avian evolutionary techniques, like me walking these planks.


There’s a 400-year-old kimono maker, Chiso, oldest in Japan, whose core value is “nothing but beauty.” A psychic once said I’d been Japanese in a previous life or maybe Native American. These faces in the planks of wood, where did they come from? On what wind did the seed they grew from blow? These things I don’t know, don’t name. But the beauty of the kimono, the faces in the wood, the words in vain in the poem that no name can contain, all-purpose-on-purpose-single-purpose, yes. Love’s enough when beauty’s at the core of what calls us home.

Guy Biederman
Issue 14, August 2022

is the author of five books, among them Nova Nights (Nomadic Press, 2021), Edible Grace (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), and Soundings & Fathoms (Finishing Line Press). His next collection, Translated From the Original: one-inch punch fiction, will be published by Nomadic Press in December 2022.

His stories have appeared in many journals such as Bull, Carve, Flash Frontier, Flashback Fiction, great weather for Media, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Riddled with Arrows, The Ekphrastic Review, and Exposition Review, where he was twice a Flash 405 winner. His work has recently received a Publisher’s Choice Award and an Editor’s Choice Award, and has been nominated for Best of The Net.

Guy’s writing apprenticeship began in a goat herder’s shack during a civil war in Guatemala. He now lives on a houseboat with his wife and salty cat, and walks the planks daily.

Author’s website: https://www.guybiederman.com/

Author’s blog: This Day Afloat: Reflections of Life on the Water

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Quite, a prose poem by Biederman which was the winner of the “Triple-Q” Writing Challenge in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 11, January 2022); to hear him read this piece, see Recordings at his website.

Edible Grace: An e-Collection of 12 Micro-Prose in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019); click on Next Page at bottom left of each piece to access the next one.

Edible Grace is also available in print and offers bonus content, including six additional micro-prose and five more photographs by the author, plus a pen-and-ink drawing by Tula Biederman.

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