Three Prose Poems

by Claudia Serea

A boat made from a half walnut shell

A boat made from a half walnut shell    floats on the dark waters. Inside it, the mouse scribbles at her desk. The words flow like string from the tip of her pen, which knits them into a small sail. The mouse raises the poem at the mast. Huge waves crash into the boat, but she knows it will keep sailing if she keeps writing.

What happens in the poem stays in the poem

Take a dream vacation to your beautiful pain. Enjoy its five-stars hotels, fine dining, and dazzling nightlife. Find new romance under your heart’s Eiffel Tower and play the penny slot machines. Slide your tokens inside the wounds and pull the handle until the three cherries align. Pound after pound of shiny poems will pour out. Don’t delay—book your trip today.
It will be the experience of a lifetime.

I come home late from work and feel like listening to your life


I slip in the record, turn up the volume, and listen, eyes closed.

You start running in your labyrinth, down the shimmering tracks. You start telling me about the bar and your friends getting higher than the Empire State building. You slide through the city’s narrow streets, chased by the hot needle, and the needle stabs your foot, and you stumble and bleed through turning glass doors, glass walls, glass women, faster, through corridors and hallways, faster and faster, through the grooves of the moving spiral.

And your hair is on fire. You wave your burning hands. Your shirt bursts into flames: This is it, man. This is war.

Run through its muddy niches, crawl through its trenches, through the dark maze, down to the spiral center, its very end. Some nights are fought like this.

I go to the kitchen, pour myself a glass of wine. The walls are narrow and slightly curved and I know someone else feels like listening to the record of my life. Carefully, he places the needle on its surface. I hear the small explosions of two specs of dust.

I go out for a walk, for a run. The street is dark and shaped like a spiral.


Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, among others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), To Part Is to Die a Little(Cervena Barva Press, 2015) and Nothing Important Happened Today(Broadstone Books, forthcoming). Serea co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, NJ. She is the founding editor of National Translation Month. More at





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