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“From the Spring of Michael March”

John White
Advanced Creative Writing

“When she danced,
pain was not weakness.”

- Michael March
“Fruit Muesli for the Vysegrad Four”

England’s Tesco provides my cereal bowl breakfast,
Filled with Tesco Value Fruit Muesli
From a thousand gram bag for forty-two crowns
Raisins (shriveled grapes), and banana fruit flakes
Dry as dust unless swimming in box milk
Tesco’s blue box means: lives forever.

Fruit Muesli for the Vysegrad Four
(the first of the Eastern Bloc to face West)
Polish, Slovakian, Hungarian, and Czech
Four languages saying:
“Dry. Tastes good in milk.”

They serve fresh grilled chickens, dripping with flavor,
stuffed in a foil bag, convenient and to go.
Thirty crowns cheaper than the street-side store
and packaged better as well.

The everything-mall sings, “Tesco Tesco!”
from canned loudspeakers every ten minutes,
alerting the customers of new discounts and sales.
A radio of commercials and music enhance
the Prague consumer experience.
Between its two floors, an escalator ramp,
made for shopping carts, glides through the ceiling
into cosmetics, furniture, and clothes,
and for men: an electronics department.
All just across from Slavia Stadium
this Tesco is straight out of Eden.
“Sestina: Brick Blocked Road Warrior”

Coming to the stop light I gas pedal (slam!) accelerate
into red. Then test the break-pads: friction brilliantly
in form. Overheated, hood fuming, the motor has been corrupted
by a serpent-like belt pent up in the metal cage and constricted. Deviantly,
it weaves through gears of plastic and steel. Spitting elixir
venom flecks of oil, staining the split forked road. Trespassing into a forlorn

neighborhood with gated hope. The greener grass is forlorn
and forbidden. I ask for sky and I’m given cement. I accelerate
into dead ends until this auto’s body is on brick blocks. Elixir
of life drained into the pan to maintain the chrome polished brilliant
empty form. What use is a car with deviant
desires and “no oil? No exit.” the mechanic says. This engine is corrupted.

This test driver, driving nowhere, is corrupted
by legends of freeways. Four lanes forlorn.
No way to enter the on-ramp. The red light beams its deviant
smile. Its round three-eyed face dares me to accelerate
faster. If the tired rubber will not burn into brilliant
scars of melted skin on the pavement, my blood will become the elixir

quenching the thirst of these machine pressed veins. The elixir
glugs thick, motor oil milk shake, red, tastes like corrupted
passion. The engine spits back my blood, too crude for the brilliant
veins of this automobile. Option gauge is on “E” so I smash the forlorn
gas pedal to the floor. The mechanic on duty yells, “Do not accelerate!
The engine will overheat into fireworks!”, and I grin deviantly

because this car is a rental. I got cheap, deviant,
knowing I could not escape with exhausted red oil: my own elixir.
But now the garage fumes thick enough and I accelerate
harder. I do not want the body redeemable. I want it wrecked and corrupted.
I used a fake name at the rental agency. “Forlorn
Frankly,” I said. “Have a good day, Mr. Frankly. It’s a brilliant

day for a spin.” They said. I agree, “Yes. Brilliant.”
And I grin, grind my teeth into a deviant
show of politeness. Gripping the wheel I will discover that final forlorn
freeway – I promise – today I will find and guzzle the elixir
my engine needs to rev faster and drive farther than before. Corrupted
roadways branch into cities with signs ruling, “Do not accelerate!”

Into dead ends where no store carries the forlorn elixir
I need to quench my deviant desires before my (snap!) corrupted
engine belt brilliantly binds me to a garage where into fireworks I accelerate.
“Michael’s Boat”

The forest hangs under the sky, surrounding the lake. This dusk should last forever.
Everything seems at ease now. Reds in the sky turning purple-blue. The water gently lapping
against my feet. The sky’s so deep, even the water looks red. It’s been years since I was last here
and now the water is tingling cold on my feet. It could wash away anything. This shore was
never good enough for swimming. Too many reeds along the beach. Swimming in them the
body would get tangled up and drowned. Last time I was here, it was with Michael. He had a
small row boat we went fishing with. We never caught anything except carp. He’d say “Filthy
fish. They’d eat anything.” Michael always joked that we needed better bait. “Stick your finger
in there, Kevin.” He’d say. “Worm it around so the fish come biting. Then hit them with the
paddle.” I told him he ought to, since it was his idea. He stopped talking and he just rocked the
boat back and forth until I nearly got sick. Then he’d laugh again. Those fishing trips really did
get on my nerves. I never knew how much. Always the same. He’d say the carp are filthy fish
and would eat anything, even a dead deer. I would ask “why’d a deer be in the water?” and he
would shrug. Maybe it’d get caught in the reeds, he’d suggest, or hit by a paddle. Then laugh.
Always the reeds. Then he’d go quiet and I’d look at them. Such a tangled mess that any animal
could disappear in there. Anything at all. Michael was right about that. This sky is so sedate
now. So therapeutic. So calm. There has been so much stress lately and now that I’m up here,
alone with my thoughts and relaxed for the first time since I don’t know when. I’m suddenly so
exhausted. It makes me want to just wash my hands in the water and take a nap on Michael’s
boat. I’d have to tie it to the dock so it wouldn’t drift away. No rocking, no feeling sick, just
peace and the faint splish splash against the hull. No more jokes about animals getting caught in
the reeds. No more need for the paddle. But he was right though. Any animal could have an
accident in that tangled mess of plants in the water. He was also right about the carp. Filthy fish
that will eat anything.
“Kampa Peeping John”
The birdie excitedly hits plastic paddles held by two women. Each demarcating the
boundaries of the bird’s flight. One tank-topped and one tube-topped, both toting tattoos needled
into the skin. Occasionally the falconers giggled as they ran back and forth studying the sky.
They were sandal-footed and recreating as birds of feather tend to do. Nearby their mother dog
stands mostly ignoring her three birds. The harnessed dog guards against intruders, but lacking
them, she shakes her whole body, tale first, head last. This is not the first time friends have come
to the island to play badminton and whack a plastic shuttlecock birdie into the air. In the
summers preceding, I too, was among the voluntary league of badminton teams – playing until
bug bites or boredom set in. Perhaps my game would have been lengthened, but my inability to
hit the shuttlecock before it landed into the grass became tiresome. Tiresome for both me and my
friends. We even moved to the smaller park across the canal stream so to have fewer spectators
(i.e. so it would be less embarrassing to watch). Sooner than later, I decided to retire and watch
my friends whack the bird back and forth, while I sat under a tree and tried my hand at writing a
thesis on colonialism and literature.
“The Metro Time Table”
Drunk expat walks off
the metro platform.
At last relaxed, he falls
awakened only by the loss
of ground to sleep walk on.

Dazed, strangers are yelling,
gesturing wildly,
pulling him up to safety
and more gestures
pointing to the escalator exit up.

While ascending to Charles Square
towards daylight,
the Saturday morning metro arrives.
I wander towards Angel district
and its three story mall,
the free bathroom on the second floor,
to wash the rail grease from my face,
and look dismally at the rips
in my Offspring t-shirt.

That day I realized
When I die, it will be some way
similar, just as absurd
and preventable
(a public inconvenience maybe).
Last time I was early, but next time
I will not be late.

The newspaper would read,
“John White, an American in Prague, died last night
in Peace Square underground metro station.
He was catching the metro home.
It hit him in the face.”

“I-Tunes Shuffle”
Somewhere out there, in the smoky air, where the night is neon blue,
the blue haired Coraline discovers the magic door leading through the wall.
Get a life, get a grip, get away somewhere, take a trip.
I know the pieces fit, because I watched them fall away.
Potato farmers from northern Poland are revolutionizing…We
of Alcoholics Anonymous believe (potato vodka) that the reader will be interested in the plan of
recovery described in this book.
It doesn’t matter that I haven’t paid the rent; all that is meaningless I see.
I can’t understand why she let go of my hand. She left me here
alone on the bed, where I’m lying awake thinking about what she said.
The sky was dark this morning. Not a bird in the trees. Now
Alice a Tom jsou v kavarne1
doing a brand new dance now, singing “Come on baby, do the locomotion!”
“It is a masterpiece,” agrees Terry Pratchett.
It seemed particularly pointless to Coraline, but she hoped that the people enjoyed it.

1
‘Alice and Tom are at the café’ Czech Step by Step. Lida Hola.