Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Prose-Poem Sequence: 410 words
Each poem: 100 words
(including its title)
By Jonathan Yungkans


That’s Not the Way the Soul
Functions in Today’s Suburbia*


Museums Live in Our Breath1

Rain pours onto Norton Simon’s white-and-grey polished-marble floors. The portrait of Vincent van Gogh’s mother catches droplets near her eyes on protective glass. Flooded, the adjoining sculpture garden is now a lake. Henry Moore’s Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 9 floats there, brazenly defiant of its bronze nature. The statue is Mom. We shared stories and secrets, more like close friends than as parent and child. Here, arms outstretched, she throws the bread of maternal kindness on the waters for me to return. A docent in a dark-blue serge business suit announces, “We are standing still.”



Into the Silence That Night Alone Can’t Explain2

A crow’s caw breaks it or echoes it—I haven’t quite decided, hugging the sides of my coffee mug for warmth against the tide of coldness that has been breaking against me for hours. As if I were a creosote-soaked wooden piling, tide swirling in and out and the occasional drum tattoo of footsteps from deck planks overhead. I want a tree planted above my body after I’m gone. The rustle of leaves in an afternoon wind is more pleasing, an ocean of air replacing one of water, one horizon mirroring another.



An Incisive Shadow, Too Perfect in Its Outrageous Regularity3

Or, rather, several shadows, combing a black-sand beach late at night, quiet as the dead, each a full-figure silhouette. They remind me of the blind man in Bethesda after Jesus had laid hands on his eyes and he saw men as trees, walking. He saw everyone clearly once Jesus laid hands on his eyes a second time. If my eyes were similarly opened, I don’t know how many I would recognize as people I’ve known. How many as myself at different ages. Or whether I would wish to have stayed blind.



Like Snow Having Second Thoughts and Coming Back4

A charm of finches chirping in a tall hibiscus bush as they dine on whiteflies, above gauzy webs which drape like discarded napkins over dark-green leaves. Waking today with the thought of not waking tomorrow. Wind high in the atmosphere stretching clouds as angel wings across the northern sky. Another penny in the dirt beside the house to remind me of my late sister-in-law. The hawk I watched grow up and learn to fly, spiraling overhead to gain altitude before it soars past, flapping one wing just enough to constitute a wave.




*Sequence title is from John Ashbery’s poem “Whatever the Old Man Does Is Always Right” in his collection Commotion of the Birds (Ecco, 2016).

1. Title of first prose poem is adapted from a line in John Ashbery’s poem “A Mood of Quiet Beauty” in his collection April Galleons (Viking Press, 1987).

2. Title of the second is from Ashbery’s poem “Forties Flick” in his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Viking Press, 1975).

3. Title of the third is from Ashbery’s poem “The Pursuit of Happiness” in his collection Shadow Train (Viking Press, 1981).

4. Title of the fourth is from Ashbery’s poem “Punishing the Myth” in his collection Shadow Train (Viking Press, 1981).

Jonathan Yungkans
Issue 23 (April 2024)

listens to the pouring Southern California rain well in the wee hours of what some call morning and others some mild form of insanity and types while watching a large skunk meander under the foundation of a century-old house. He is thankful when his writing is less noxious than that jittery creature on the other side of those floorboards. During what some choose to call normal hours, he works as an in-home health-care provider, fueled by copious amounts of coffee while finding time for the occasional deep breath.

His poems have appeared in Book of Matches, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor, Gyroscope Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Panoply, San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, Unbroken Journal, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in February 2021 by Tebor Bach.

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.