Richard J. Fleming


An asthmatic biplane struggles across blue skies,
towing a vinyl banner promoting jobs in America.
Didn’t you once work there in the ghastly laxity
of independence?

I dropped an anvil on my way to the office;
and lost my deposit. I don’t suppose you’ve seen
my steamroller by any chance?
I lost it in the last election.

Then the government got involved.
There’s always something: a sniper on a grassy knoll,
or a whimsical puppet granted immunity
in the witness protection program.

Now would be a good time to cancel
the previous transaction. Reality is an instant replay
away. That’s where the swamp comes in.
Impending asteroids contribute heavily
to substandard production.

The right supermarket poses a wistful permanence
upon the fishy authenticity of the next decade.
The nuclear family builds a beautiful obsession
on the mountain. Your hopes, your dreams,
your legacy.


Once summer blew by,
I came to fetch you from the planned obsolescence
of your father’s house. A funny thing happened
on the way to the farm. Our pedal car crashed
into the House of Cheese.

There were faded road signs everywhere:
Last exit before Anonymity, a city in the Midwest
where everyone forgets your name;
and a rockabilly jukebox in a seedy diner,
grinds out the golden drivel of an obliging song.

This part of the country can generate some crazy,
unique crop circles and incredible fairy rings.
Those things weren’t there a minute ago,
but then, what was?

Back in Sheboygan,
the lonesome pines pined away for your love,
and beer was 25 cents a glass on ladies’ night.

On a clear day you could see Oklahoma,
but it was boring and inconvenient.
The subsidized cow works. You should try it.


Time passes slowly like an opium dream on a barge
sailing beneath a bridge of sighs.
Just enough sunlight left to make our way to Grandma's house.

The Checkered Demon will appear tonight. You can catch a glimpse
of him in a broken mirror at the International House of Pancakes.
He is bringing a box of safety matches to ignite the furnace
where stuttering valedictorians burn illuminated manuscripts;
then escape unnoticed, blending into a crowd along the quay.

And at the end of the gangplank,
some anthropoids that we begin to suspect actually exist, emerge
from a warm bath in a sunken tub at the bottom of the ocean.

And we find them charming, like seedless grapes or sliced melon.
These are the forbidden fruits our parents warned us about:
unchaperoned parties that arise like wildfire in vacant houses,
proton drinks and atomic fireballs that stimulate
the corporeal unisex of low fidelity highlights.

You know nothing good can come of this posturing and posing
for an invisible audience that is forever late and bears no gifts;
until someone else comes along, and pushes the right buttons,
opening the shiny doorknobs in a strange land.

Richard J. Fleming is a survivor of three Chicago blizzards. He has recently had poetry published in Right Hand Pointing, The Rusty Nail, Inkwell Mag, Curio, Otoliths, Rain, Party & Disaster Society, One Sentence Poems, Unbroken, Poetry Super Highway, Rattle, Stoneboat Journal, Slipstream, Hotel Amerika & Sugar House Review.

Right Hand Pointing published his first Chap book, “Aperture”. You can read it here.

White Knuckle Press published his second Chap book “Give my Regards to Amway”. You can read it here.
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