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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 3: May 2020
Prose Poem: 141 words
By Cassandra Atherton



I wake to find no air in my lungs, just the shadow of used words on the ceiling. I think about reaching for them, but no amount of coaxing will return them to my chest. Instead, I watch as they cling like black stars to the tops of the windows; waiting to slip into the night and become someone else’s. You give me new words to try on my tongue and I stir them into my milky breakfast tea; a whirlpool of words circling my spoon. I dip the corner of my French toast into the liquid and they crawl up the crust, clinging to the eggy bread as I wash them down with more hot tea. Your words lap against the pit of my stomach and rise until I’m light headed. A tickle of vowels haunts my soft palate.

Cassandra Atherton
Issue 3, May 2020

is a widely anthologised prose poet and a leading scholar on prose poetry. She was a Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University, sponsored by Stephen Greenblatt, and a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University, Tokyo. She is the recipient of national and international research grants and awards, including VicArts and Australia Council grants, and has judged numerous poetry awards including the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry, the joanne burns award, and the Lord Mayor’s Prize for Poetry.

Cassandra’s books of prose poetry include Exhumed (Grand Parade Poets, 2015), Trace (Finlay Lloyd, 2015), Pre-Raphaelite (Garron Publishing, 2018), and Leftovers (forthcoming, 2020). She is an Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University (Melbourne Burwood); commissioning editor for Westerly magazine and Axon: Creative Explorations journal; and series editor for the publisher Spineless Wonders.

Poet’s website: http://cassandra-atherton.com/

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