2 prose poems from Jack Bedell

Punk Noir Magazine

Swamp Thing Wonders What’s Left of Himself That the Dog Recognizes

One thing’s for sure: I’m no Odysseus. His dog had it easy. Same master—just older, hairier, and much later than he should’ve been coming home from his spot out with the boys. Every cell in this body I drag around has changed into something other, and there’s no way the few words I choke out can tickle anything in this hound’s memory. I know it saw me catch fire and dive into the swamp. It was there when I resurfaced as what I am. Maybe it can smell my loss like fear, or knows somehow this anger inside me echoes from the man I used to be. Maybe, though, it’s just a dog’s simple faith that every leaving means a coming home, and that’s enough to keep it curled up at my feet.

Swamp Thing Comes to Accept the Concept of Intellectual Property

Everything under our lab’s roof had a government property tag on it. Every piece of clothing Linda and I put on, every morsel of food we ate, and every molecule we used to concoct our growth formula was government issue. Even the alarm clock that started our day was set to military time. So while I am accountable for the mess I’m in, for what we’ve suffered, I do not own it. Like Adam before me, sat in the garden digesting that apple, I sit in judgment under someone else’s laws. And any offspring I produce from here on out is subject to its owner’s needs and use. Mine is just to labor, to suffer, and to move along. Theirs be the honor and the glory.

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Sport Literate, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, and other journals. His latest collection is Color All Maps New (Mercer University Press, 2021). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.