sporklet 14

Benjamin Niespodziany

Borscht or Porridge

The Misunderstood Woodsman


In the forest, the woodsman whispers cow. He hides behind the hide. Father of five, he hides behind nine succulents. Father of five, he hides in trees for weeks. The forest, he thinks, is a shrinking square. The pond insults the woodsman. The pond is the size of a gun. Race with the pond and let the pond win. Settle the score with store bought porridge. Peace is a paper straw lodged in the mouth of a grouse. A bird with a tourniquet. A wave that prays to wind.


Woodland Routine


Before breakfast, father and son go hunting. They put on garments that turn them into trees. They catch a grouse with a trap. They catch a mouse with a bag. They are glad to have such luck. When father and son return to their cabin, mother is missing. Father's wife, son's mother. Gone with her candles, her glad tidings. Gone. A witch above father, a witch above son, steering her sputtering cloud, a string like a beak asleep on her nose.


Singing to Speed the Process


The witch unzips six different parts of her eight bags and finally finds her pill, which she chills in a jar and waits for its hatch. This is the witch with the horse made of crows. The witch with the most vocal of vocalist ghosts. A bear pacing in its cage. A bear so decorated in circles and still it does not help. After dark, the witch visits the town. She sits in the park and stitches the storm. All windows all closed, all doors all locked. A stocking in a tree where the chickadee sleeps, its wings more tulip than the moon.


Porridge Bedspreads
after Matt Bell


After the second moon bloomed, after the building of numerous rooms, the boy turned into a bear. A second moon is never a blessing, said the sea cathedral to the sky. The two moons turned into two suns. The bear turned back to boy. The toy arrow in your head, the boy's mother said with the wind never ending, is no bedtime story. Pour it and store it in the fridge for morning.


Ben Niespodziany is a Pushcart Prize nominee who recently appeared on the Wigleaf Top 50. He has his writing in Fence (forthcoming), Fairy Tale Review, Hobart, and various others. He works nights at UChicago's library.