Photo provided by Carlo MatosCarlo Matos has published seven books, including The Secret Correspondence of Loon & Fiasco (Mayapple Press) and It’s Best Not to Interrupt Her Experiments (forthcoming Negative Capability Press). He has published poems, stories, and essays in Iowa Review, PANK, Another Chicago Magazine, Paper Darts, DIAGRAM, and the Gavea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry, among many others. Carlo has also received grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Fundação Luso-Americana, and the Sundress Academy for the Arts. He is a recent winner of the Heartland Poetry Prize and the Slash Pine Press Winter Prose Chapbook Contest. A former fighter, he now trains and coaches cage fighters and kickboxers. He blogs at carlomatos.blogspot.com. Follow him on twitter @CarloMatos46.

Carlo Matos talks about the process of writing prose poems and narrative, and he shares the poem “Tombstone.”


By Carlo Matos

His people were probably not gunslingers. Even the ones that went west—his cousins from one island over—probably never skinned a Smoke Wagon in a quick draw. He had never seen a Western where an Azorean strapped on some spurs and aced a bandido or two. They don’t even get to be bandidos, even though the word is also theirs. Pirates—some of them had to have been pirates, surrounded as they were by the tough man’s ocean . . . Even Doc Holliday must’ve felt this for what dentist could he look to as a role model? When you’re a kid, it’s hard to choose between Wyatt Earp’s impervious handlebar mustache or Doc Holliday’s double pistols, but as adults we know that being the leader of the gang only looks fun. As the ace gunman, you’re free to leave worry in the dust . . . Who cares if in real life Doc was often so drunk he could barely hit the guy charging him because someone had to be cheating. We’ll ignore the fact that he probably shot more innocent bystanders than adversaries. The truth was his hands were fast, his ambitions small, and the blood on his sleeve had nothing to do with teeth.

[First published in Atticus Review.]


Writing prompts: Select a poem you’ve already written and write the thing that happened before the poem and write the thing that happened after the poem (so you create two new poems that bookend the original in its narrative). OR write two more versions of a poem you’ve already written. OR start a poem using text/Facebook.

Definition of Terms

A prose poem is a poem that has no line breaks.

A novella is fictional prose that is longer than a short story but smaller than a novel.

Flash fiction tells a narrative briefly (often less than 1,000 words).

A narrative poem is a poem that tells a story.

A trope happens when a poet uses figurative language repetitively/in a recurring way.

Enjambment happens when a poet breaks a line in an unexpected way (it’s not broken on punctuation or at a natural phrase).



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