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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Gift I Never Got

I have been following the advice given of practicing prose poetry. When I have done more than a few of them- hopefully a lot -I will post. There are quick sketches in rough form, and I will post them that way. Unrevised. Bare and naked in a sense. Later I will revise some of them. But as person who needs to appreciate the process more and not concern myself so much with how the product looks, it will do my soul good to post them as they originally came to me. Maybe a little embarrassing too...

But in the meantime, here is another prose poem shared in the book I am reading that I really like:

The Gift I Never Got

It was not unusual in my house for the phone to ring once, just once, and then fade away into silence. It was not unusual in my house for my father to suddenly announce after one of these calls that he had some errand to run. Often it was a trip to the store, or some forgotten task at work. It was a usual day in my house: the phone had just rung once, my father had just left to go to the store, and I was eight years old. Christmas was near and I was searching the house for presents. Under my parents' bed is where I found it. It was a bright red toy car with real rubber tires and plastic pipes that looked like real chrome. I couldn't control myself and soon I was pushing it along the floor. I could feel my heart thumping in my head and my hands were slick with perspiration. Later that night I dreamed about the car: it would be my favorite toy. On Christmas morning I bypassed the Stretch Armstrong Doll, I totally ignored the Dr. J. Basketball, and went looking for the car. It was some cruel joke. "Where is it?" I cried. I ran into my parents' bedroom, rifled under the bed, but it wasn't there. My mother followed me."What are looking for?" she asked. "The car! The car!" I screamed. The phone rang once- and I heard the door close as my father left to go to the store. "There is no car," she said. "Yes there is. Yes there is!" I screamed back. "It's just like when the phone rings you always say it is no one. Well it would not ring if it wasn't someone." She didn't speak for a long while after that. She just looked at me. Finally she said, "Alright, we will ask him about the car. We will ask him about the phone that only rings once. We will ask him about all those trips to the store".
-Vincent Draper

I like how you know what is happening in the very beginning and it does not take away at all from the tension and the telling of what happen.

This is an epiphany captured in a poem.

I also see with this poem how it can be a fine line between interpreting this as a short story or prose poetry. (It covers more than one moment.) But as Kowitt said forgot about all that...It does not matter what its is but what it says and how it makes you feel.

Doesn't your heart just break for this eight-year-old boy?


  1. thats my story. i was that eight year old boy. it wasnt until i was 15 that i truly understood my fathers infidelity. thats another grand story of childhood trauma that thus far remains in my head. i was so proud to have something published even if only as part of a text book, but ironically i never shared this one with them as neither of them need the reminder.

  2. Vincent just saw your comment. Honored you stopped by. Great prose poem but sad memory. :-(