by John Walser


  1. Terra cotta pot paraffin flame night:
  1. in a hidden fruit market side stall
  2. a soot and smudge kerosene
  3. street performer fedora
  4. electric guitar sings red wine mud
  5. and French cigarette ballads:
  6. his voice warped and plastic
  7. as a melted doll’s legs:
  8. as a spindle rub.
  1. Funereal suit fire artists:
  2. their faces cinder creased:
  3. their fingernails: dark
  4. as the pond water mascara
  5. of a horse’s eye:
  1. I trace the alleys I already walked
  2. as they lit globes, fuses:
  1. their hunched shadows:
  2. the silhouettes
  3. of wicked fairy godmothers:
  1. their hunched shadows:
  2. the silhouettes of rats.


  1. Fire loves a lead pipe vacuum:
  2. the oxygen rush into the tube
  3. when it is lifted:
  4. the spouted geyser.
  1. The dark vent though closes plumage:
  1. no fleur: no symmetry: no pattern:
  1. just the flaring flecks of a polished stone:
  2. just the scalded hot spots scale crackling:
  3. just the primordial behind the singe calm:
  4. just the thin sleep of smoke.


  1. Over the Humber: pier hung lantern lights
  2. reflect like wooden boats midnight current
  3. pulled and floating away from shore:
  1. when the wick flicker finally finds paper:
  2. the framework for fire:
  1. each is a jumping fish:
  2. silver as metal filings:
  3. that brands a small blaze scar
  4. onto the surface of the water:
  1. together: a constellation of sailors
  2. sextant dizzy and lost:
  1. when they finally burn down:
  2. sizzling blanks that disappear
  3. like wishful coins into the river.


  1. Closer to the fire: we all stand
  2. closer to the fire: I smell the fuse
  3. closer to the fire: I feel like clay
  4. closer to the fire: the bark coals
  5. the kettle glow: the cast iron sear.
  1. We want and don’t want
  2. the tribulation of heat:
  3. of guttering: of scorch.


  1. If the moon tonight drags tides
  2. what like a spinning wheel lures fire?
Packingtown Review – Vol.10, Spring 2018

John Walser, an associate professor at Marian University in Wisconsin, holds a doctorate in English/Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Spillway, The Pinch and december magazine. A Pushcart nominee as well as the recipient of the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award, he is a three-time semi-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. His manuscript 19 Skies was a finalist for Trio House Press’s Trio Prize. His manuscript Edgewood Orchard Galleries was a finalist in the Autumn House Press Poetry Contest and the Crab Orchard Series Award, as well as a semi-finalist for the Philip Levine Prize. John was a contributor to Volume 6 of Packington Review.

  1. Dragana Jurišić
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