“A Few Minutes” by Dennis Trudell

Dennis Trudell


A white horse in a bright meadow,
a man in prison thinks with eyes closed,
but can’t envision it. And can’t. “Please,”
he murmurs. Yesterday he was able
to glimpse a woman in bra and panties
after thinking those words. Yet she
was middle-aged and overweight; he
couldn’t replace her with another. No
young woman or white horse wants to 
come here, fool. Asshole. He stares at
his palms, trying to envision something
out there they once touched. Rungs
of a ladder … Except they rise up
toward nothing but a metallic gray sky
with the ground far, far below,
and he feels the rungs are months he
has spent here and will. 

He tries to bring
the woman to mind again—but sees
only her brief shadow. He doesn’t 
believe in God, but decides that he
has to reach for something or go mad. 
He covers both eyes, murmurs, “Help
me. Nothing else can.” These words
die inches from his mouth, and the man 
lowers his hands and considers rushing
his skull toward a wall of his cell.
Why the hell not? He feels his body
tense to do that when suddenly the wall
becomes a young woman, naked and
smiling, on a white horse. Moments 
later it is a gray wall again, blurred
through his tears—and the quivering 
man shuffles there to caress it. 

from Rattle #57, Fall 2017


Dennis Trudell: “I write poems to help me learn what is important to me at any given time. Years ago I taught at a state maximum security prison and later at a federal prison. This long afterward I still find myself imagining being isolated in that way. ‘A Few Minutes’ is a brief tale of a man seeking to briefly ‘escape’ in the only way he can—through an effort of mind and will. I often write narrative poems and never know as I enter them where they will take me.”

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