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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Prose Poem: 247 words
By Guy Biederman

A Descent of Woodpeckers


I don’t have writer’s block. I have cat block. Mr. Tuxedo is lying across my chest and arm licking my goatee like there’s no tomorrow. And he may be right. Cats have a knack for knowing what’s coming. So I write with my other hand, find the moleskin, find the pen, write the song with facts in mind. Woodpeckers strike a tree 150 times a minute. Imagine that staccato rhythm. Pointillism on bark. A membrane covers their eyes when they work. Eye goggles. Safety first. They create holes above the door where they live so sap will run, preventing snakes from climbing the tree. Woodpeckers know about protection. These facts are known. Yet what kind of creature will ignore such facts and place themselves and their babies at risk for other purposes like influence, power, and money. Make the overt decision. Take the calculated risk. Do the greedy math. Say some words. Look the other way when slaughter comes. I’ve run out of page. The cat moves to the arm of the chair. I reach for my coffee, put down my pen. I reach for an answer again and again. The cat returns. The woodpecker strikes. The snake climbs the tree. Tomorrow becomes today. And yesterday saw it coming. So did we as we sipped and looked the other way. A group of woodpeckers is called a descent. A group of creatures who do nothing about slaughter on the rise is called a disgrace.



—To hear the author read “A Descent of Woodpeckers,”
see Recordings at his website.

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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