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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poem: 259 words
By Guy Biederman

Oatmeal Chronicles


These are the things I can control. And not even them very well. If I turn away for a few seconds that turn into minutes while writing a poem on scrap paper that takes me nowhere but here, the milk and water combo I’m heating for our steel cut oatmeal will scald, and who wants scum on their breakfast.

So I keep an eye on the stove as I write, stirring occasionally, pour in the oats, turn down the heat, slice pecans, walnuts, banana, the secret to oatmeal being in the toppings, unlike, say, this unadorned poem that brought me here of its own volition, on its own accord, navigating around printed words on a scrap of paper from Kaiser asking if I want to be part of a research bank for cancer survivors, and I think on it.

And as soon as I do the milk starts to boil, oats start to roil, and the only thing I know is you can’t turn your back on these things—not oatmeal, not cancer, and certainly not the poem.

Then I remember the jar of cinnamon sugar my sis made for me, and I pull it down from the cupboard, put some in the oatmeal, put some in the poem. Sugar and spice and everything nice. Just a sprinkle. My secret for all things good I allow in my life, all things perfect and not. Perfect as bowls of oatmeal loaded with toppings sitting at our places on the table, next to two shiny spoons, steam lightly rising.

Guy Biederman
Issue 15, September 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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