Benjamin Niespodziany

Three Prose Poems
(disguised as one-act plays)

Sold Out Show

In the desert, the entire cast brings a cloth curtain to hang. They paint a backdrop of rocks and rain. It is here they paint their theater. Paint an audience, aisles, seats. Paint a balcony, paint bleachers. The theater is complete. They raise the cloth curtain and begin a medley of vignettes: a modern western with a twist, a murder in a dimly lit town, a hound inside a cage of ice, a moth toolbox a woman slowly fills. Once finished, the entire cast stare and smile at their painted audience and wait for the ovation to halt. The trees are so green the cast asks questions.

The Theater of 100 Stomachs

“The theater has many stomachs,” says a cast member.
“98, 99, 100,” says another.
“100 stomachs,” another still.

A Scene

The audience sits in a dark theater. All of the lights are off. The stage is made of increasing raindrops. The curtain is on fire. “It's much better than outside,” says a cast member somewhere in the dark audience. “Somewhere in one of the 100 dressing rooms backstage,” says another, “a villain clears its throat.” “We know,” says another, “it's snowing but not nearby.”

Benjamin Niespodziany is the author of two chapbooks: 2021's The Northerners, out through above/ground press, and 2022's Pickpocket the Big Top, out through Dark Hour Books. His work has been featured in the Wigleaf Top 50, FENCE, Crazyhorse, Blue Arrangements, Fairy Tale Review, and various others. His debut full-length poetry collection will be out in November with Okay Donkey Press.
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