Thursday, August 23, 2012

Townsend Walker

Prose Poems

What He Knows
     George is lying in a pool of water.
     When he regains consciousness he will not feel his right foot. He will wriggle his toes, but he will not know if they moved.
     He will see rocks and sprouts of green. He will not know he is on a deserted cobbled street.
     His skin will feel numb because the water is cold. He will not know the water has a pinkish hue.
     His mouth will have a coppery taste. He will not know what is in it.
     His nose will be assaulted by an acrid rotting smell. He will not know he is responsible for the odor.
     He will hear an irregular lapping sound above him. He will not be able to raise his head to see the mongrel dog drinking the water.
     He will be able to turn to see another dog approaching.

A Life?
     Charlie was a mean lad. Charlie was a mad lad. Charlie was rad bad.
     Charlie clubbed a buddy, then his aunt.
     The judge said, “Jail or Army, lad?”
     Charlie got to go to war. Charlie got to kill. Charlie saw lots of things.
     Charlie got a medal. Charlie got to come home. Charlie is the man.
     Charlie’s on the street now. Scuffed boots falling off his feet now.
     In the throat, Night Train. Up the nose, cocaine.
     Charlie was the man.

Facing Down Danger
     Danger hung around O’Neil’s florid face. Like it wanted to be invited in. “Come on,” O’Neil said. He wanted it, wanted to look it straight in the eye. That’s the kind of man O’Neil was. Adrenaline, fist on flesh. Pounding out his heart’s despair, abandoning mind to body.
     It wasn’t clear to those in McSorley’s why O’Neil didn’t notice that danger had half a foot on him, was twice as wide and was holding a knife.

© Townsend Walker 2012

Townsend Walker is a writer living in San Francisco. His stories have been published in over forty literary journals and included in five anthologies. Two of his stories were nominated for the PEN/O.Henry Award. His website is


  1. Three very intiguing, if somewhat grim, pieces with great flashes of character insight in such short space. No waste of words at all! Admirable talent, for sure.

  2. A terrific, touching and terrifying trio!

    Nice work as always Townsend.

  3. Wow, Townsend, these are awesome. I'm amazed at how you improved the Charlie piece since the workshopping in Pressboard Shanty. Great work, all three!

  4. "In the throat, Night Train. Up the nose, cocaine."

    That's great. It's about as succinct as it gets and it made me laugh out loud for some reason. Shouldn't it be DOWN the throat, though?

  5. These are so simple, and so effective. They've made me rethink my approach to poetry. I'm hoping more of Townsend's work will find its way to this venue.


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