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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 5: October 2020
Prose Poem: 291 words
By Michael J. Galko

The mustard incident


Crazymaking exists. Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t but that’s just the mice you can’t see in the weeds. I was sent out for mustard. A particular brand. The first store didn’t have it. My heart started to race. I could feel my phone in my pocket. I didn’t want to call. Are you sure it is not on the shelf? Have you checked all the way back? Check again. I didn’t want to go to another store. That would take time. She was in a hurry to get the recipe finished. For the guests. It was a conundrum. I decided to go to another store without calling. Eggshells appeared all over the new aisle. There were mouse droppings too. It wasn’t on the new shelf either. I could hear the shells cracking as I shifted my feet. My phone rang and my heart hit the top of my skull. The fluorescent lights were unbearable. Where are you? What do you mean it wasn’t there? It’s always there when I go. It’s not there either?! I suggested a different brand. I held the phone away from my ear. Just solve it! I heard. Something about going back to the first store—maybe they had re-stocked. Or my eyes had deceived me. The back of my collar was wet with sweat. Time was passing. I saw a mouse run across the aisle, taking little pieces of egg carton to its burrow, wherever that was. The mouse spoke to me. Not literally. Just the idea of a place to hide. That seemed wise. It was almost a form of bravery. But the lights were the eyes of hawks. I stayed frozen, scared of the very possibility of movement, of decisiveness.

Michael J. Galko
Issue 5, October 2020

is a scientist and poet who lives and works in Houston, TX. He has been a juried poet of the Houston Poetry Fest three of the last four years and his work has been nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize. In the past year, his poems have been published or are forthcoming in descant, Burningword Literary Journal, Gargoyle, Gulf Coast, Sonic Boom, Riddled with Arrows, and Broadkill Review, among others. His work is also published in a wide variety of journals specializing in haiku and micro-poetry. Indeed, the exterior walls of his small house near downtown Houston are covered with wood-burned and painted original haiku and senryu.

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