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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Prose Poems: 88 words
176 words
By James Claffey

Two Prose Poems


How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb #1

Twist the top clockwise and turn your mobile phone to airplane mode. Clean the flues out with wire wool and allow for debris to collect on the floor at your feet, shoes unlaced and open. Find some place pacific and immerse the mechanism in water. Watch the ocean turn to Yama-budo ink, darkish blood swirling with the salt water. Hold your breath as the mechanism whirrs and commences an ominous ticking whilst the transparent fish die in an irradiated bath.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb #5

In silence. The area cordoned off. Harder when rain falls and obscures the intricate work of disassembly. Wiping the drops from each wire is dangerous work and must be undertaken with a clear head and steady hand. If a breeze comes it might blow the rain into one’s face and further obscure the field of vision. The canopy helps with that and brings some respite from the driving rain. If it were to start dumping again all might change. A large cloud in the shape of a cow, bó fhionn, the pale mother goddess, coasts along the skyline, dark-edged, ready to bestow her blessings on the land. In the corner of the field a small, dark slug makes its slow way, antennae waving side-to-side in the breeze. On an adjacent patch of grass, a black-and-orange caterpillar pokes its head from behind a fallen leaf, its bristled body shaking. Across a stone wall, roughly hewn, a field of potato drills ripples, white flowers like prayers.

James Claffey
Issue 9, August 2021

is an Irishman whose writing appears in the W.W. Norton Anthologies, Flash Fiction International (2015) and New Micro: Exceptionally Small Fictions (2018), and in The Best Small Fictions 2015 anthology (Queen’s Ferry Press). He was a finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016 and a semi-finalist in 2017. He is the author of a short fiction collection, Blood a Cold Blue (Press 53, 2013), and a novel, The Heart Crossways (Thrice Publishing, 2018); and co-author with Tara Lynn Masih of a flash novellette, The Bitter Kind (Cervena Barva Press, 2020).

Author’s website: www.jamesclaffey.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Resolutions, prose poem by Claffey in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019)

Staghorn, micro-fiction in Flash Frontier (September 2017)

Interview With James Claffey by Jonathan Cardew in Connotation Press (September 2017)

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