- Terra cotta pot paraffin flame night:
- in a hidden fruit market side stall
- a soot and smudge kerosene
- street performer fedora
- electric guitar sings red wine mud
- and French cigarette ballads:
- his voice warped and plastic
- as a melted doll’s legs:
- as a spindle rub.
- Funereal suit fire artists:
- their faces cinder creased:
- their fingernails: dark
- as the pond water mascara
- of a horse’s eye:
- I trace the alleys I already walked
- as they lit globes, fuses:
- their hunched shadows:
- the silhouettes
- of wicked fairy godmothers:
- their hunched shadows:
- the silhouettes of rats.
- Fire loves a lead pipe vacuum:
- the oxygen rush into the tube
- when it is lifted:
- the spouted geyser.
- The dark vent though closes plumage:
- no fleur: no symmetry: no pattern:
- just the flaring flecks of a polished stone:
- just the scalded hot spots scale crackling:
- just the primordial behind the singe calm:
- just the thin sleep of smoke.
- Over the Humber: pier hung lantern lights
- reflect like wooden boats midnight current
- pulled and floating away from shore:
- when the wick flicker finally finds paper:
- the framework for fire:
- each is a jumping fish:
- silver as metal filings:
- that brands a small blaze scar
- onto the surface of the water:
- together: a constellation of sailors
- sextant dizzy and lost:
- when they finally burn down:
- sizzling blanks that disappear
- like wishful coins into the river.
- Closer to the fire: we all stand
- closer to the fire: I smell the fuse
- closer to the fire: I feel like clay
- closer to the fire: the bark coals
- the kettle glow: the cast iron sear.
- We want and don’t want
- the tribulation of heat:
- of guttering: of scorch.
- If the moon tonight drags tides
- 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.