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Prose Poetry

Flat Line
Whitney W. Friedrich

Summer afternoons submit to the incessant vibrations of the central air conditioning system. Automatons in shades of black, gray, and blue pinstripes sit obediently in their boxes, click-clicking away at keys which never take them anywhere no matter how quickly they type. Perhaps the day will climax in a computer glitch or the return of the portabella mushroom bisque to the overpriced market on the corner, or perhaps it will climax in nothing at all. Nameless faces and faceless names float around the fog of unfinished paperwork - Friday's forgotten business is pushed to Monday's doorstep as email is interchanged, changing nothing and there it is. All there is. A bunch of little worker bees swarming around an absent answer which will never arrive, drawn to the promise of an office with a window that they'll never look out anyway. Drawn compulsively toward tomorrow, hoping it will bring change but fearing change itself. In denial of the simple fact that today was tomorrow yesterday, and still nothing has changed.

Whitney W. Friedrich graduated from the University of Miami (Florida) in 2003 with a Bachelors degree in Communications. Today, Whitney is an Account Executive for a major ad agency in Chicago and also currently serving as Concertmaster of the Chicago Businessmen's Orchestra. Some of Whitney's previous work has been included in: The New Author's Journal, Poetic License Magazine, PBS Washington Week's "Student Voices", The Dune Shack Literary Magazine, and the South Boston Literary Gazette. Whitney's dream is to one day find her path through her passion in the publishing industry, but for now she satiates the desire by writing as often as she can and developing herself as a student of human nature - every experience, somehow finding its way to the page.

… people like me frighten those who live by conventional codes of behavior.
~ The Mistress: Myths, Histories and Interpretations of the Other Woman

La Gruta
Marianne Rogoff

I read guidebook to San Miguel.
Sounds romantic.
I'm going alone.

$1 = 9 pesos
$5 = 45 pesos
$10 = 90 pesos
$100 = 900 pesos

Stopping to look.
Speaking Spanish.
Cielo, luna, luz.
Butterflies, cactus.
Hot springs, tunnels, caves.
La Gruta = The Cave
See shooting star.

Day 1: Dream
Antonio, my driver, in doorway, thick arm wrapped around me from behind, hand flat on my belly to hold me firm. Confusion about appearances and desire. Secured by the hand I lean into this strong embrace.

Day 2: Cajun Grandmother Wisdom
Downtown plaza, I meet an older woman from New Orleans, tell her I'm traveling alone, husband left, I'm bereft. She's unmoved: "Men are like streetcars. There'll be another one along in a few minutes."

Day 3: Appointment
I meet a mistress in the jardin, stay and talk from 2 till 5. We label ourselves: wife, mistress, both more and less than the labels imply. She is not a threatening, evil home-wrecker (though of course she is) and I am not a nagging, shrewish wife (though of course I am). Her man has a child too, so there is a similar complex scenario to mine, where the father shifts his role from full-time father and family man to part-time father, another's lover.
    "What's in it for you?" I ask, the question I've been wondering.
    The compelling chemistry.
    The experience of going outside her formerly strict moral code and feeling the thrill or simply the reality of that.
    Life is more complex (more simple?) than the code and our strictly defined roles.

An ordinary night at La Gruta. Hot water dispels tension, possibilities float around my soft flesh, hard heart. Woman in her forties. Betrayed wife. Swims in mist under star-strewn Mexican sky. Again, another starry night and demons banish, mourning ceases, I breathe and swim through air, free the beastly beating broke-down heart. Under moonlight, seven nights the pool shimmers, light visible, then the tunnel, hotter, long and tight….

... move like a snake along the stone floor through warming water until the cave presents stone walls, a boundary, and darkness deepens. Black black extremely quiet. Much hotter here, smooth, slippery, soothed alive, vibrant energy pulsing, fluid sex with a stranger, we merge, sleek as seals. Unfaithful wife. Breath of fire breathe out inhale deeply silent wet heat two bodies yearn outward inside la gruta ~

By day the scene is sunny, innocent. Sun beams through holes in the cave ceiling, waterfall pummels the mind, beats me up, anoints me. I smile at everyone's joy, especially my own. My body is magnificent. I am cleansed. Newlyunwed.


"There is a bright moon, so that even the vines make a shadow."
~ D. H. Lawrence, Mornings in Mexico

"The sadness drops away. We move forward."
~ Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words

Marianne Rogoff is the author of Silvie's Life, which was optioned twice for movies and translated into Portuguese in 2006 by Gradiva, Lisbon. She has published numerous short stories and essays, including "Raven," selected for The Best Travel Writing 2006. She teaches writing & literature at California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco.