Two Prose Poems by Brian Pilling

the daily grind

The other woman, half-crazed in a check-out line at the 7-11, yells at the clerk, “SPEAK ENGLISH!” Laughter falls out of the sky when Gloria Estefan’s “Bad Boy” plays, then fades to silence, replaced by the whirling blades of the ubiquitous news chopper following traffic onto the interstate. The camera focused on the sixth high-speed chase of the month. Within minutes it is over, spike strips flattening all four tires. Suddenly the camera jolts to the right, picking up a convertible, the other woman’s head in her lover’s lap, the car swerving left and right, slowing and picking up speed—a familiar rhythm. The chopper hovers over the golden arches, where the lovers, now famished, sit in the drive-up line, delayed by a distraught child’s grandparents who just explode like a happy meal’s wind-up toy wound too tight—their order missing its fries and the cheap plastic toy. Grandpa pulls his semi- automatic Sig Sauer on the high schooler who screwed things up. Thoughts and prayers in waiting, like wrapped-up hamburgers on warming plates.


A pimple faced teenager is rifling through boxes of books at his neighbor’s garage sale. He looks over his reading list for the upcoming school year. His neighbor, a dangerous sounding woman wearing a winter jacket with a fake fur collar and metallic copper makeup, haggles over the price of an old toaster oven. Momentarily distracted by the boy, she pulls the list from his hand. She says, “you won’t find those here,” and returns the paper while wagging her other finger. “Nothing you should be reading either, if I have anything to say about it.” He quickly stuffs the list into his back pocket. “You tell your mama I’m running for school board and I’ll be counting on her vote.”


Brian Pilling has been published in The Main Street RagThe Berkshire Review, Down In The Dirt, The Droplet Journal, Missive Magazine, and other literary journals. His chapbook The Poet’s Struggle is published by Bottlecap Press. Brian is a recent winner in The Cape Cod Times poetry contest.

2 thoughts on “Two Prose Poems by Brian Pilling

  1. Prose poems. New category to me. Welcome addition. Brian sure covered a lot of political ground in his two well-written prose poems. I had a friend who was having a head-in-lap experience one night as he was transiting his car through the theatre district in Philadelphia. Exiting crowds forced him to pause at a pedestrian crosswalk as they flooded past him to their cars. His ongoing head-in -ap experience was clearly visible to all who passed. He was reluctant to embarrass his lady, or at least that’s the reason he gave, so he did not alert her that theatregoers were being treated to a second show. No one is surprised at anything that happens in Philly, so nothing was said, although several of the passersby applauded appreciatively. The “Inquirer” Theater Critic happened to be one of the passersby, and, in his column the next day, he remarked that of the two shows he had seen the night before, the second was by far the better. But that’s another prose poem. Well done, Brian.

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  2. Nick: Thank you for your “testimony.” Oxford Languages defines satire as “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” Day one and we are presented with evidence of real life preceding art. I fear what the coming days might reveal of America.

    Liked by 1 person

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