Richard J. Fleming

                          ICE STATION ZEBRA

During the last ice age, in a weather station, I licked my finger 
and tested the wind tunnel where snoozing drones nestled like 
baby bats. An old man from the sea swept the floor. A girl with 
a burp gun waited on tables. It was that kind of place, not to be 
taken lightly, but prettier than most.

A meteor dropped in for the annual polar bear plunge. Trouble 
developed when zippers failed. Someone told the chief his life 
support system was on the fritz again. I didn’t know his frozen 
waffle was alive.

It was the season of indescribable fruitcakes. You worshipped
them, or waited until spring and used them like bricks to build 
a house that overlooked your penguin pool. It was the starriest 
night in the almanac. 

Iggy the egg man,
(everyone called him that because nobody could pronounce his 
real name), sat in an igloo of Lego’s, carving barbed fishhooks 
from tusks. Lights spread across the sky like diamonds, and the 
snow wouldn’t shut up.  But where was the walrus? Everybody
wanted one for Christmas. It was supposed to be a big surprise, 
or maybe an anonymous tip, I’m not sure which. 



A twisted tree grows in Brooklyn. In a bar on every corner, 
strangers drop by and stay for the next act of a one act play. 
We sophisticated urbanites prefer to mix our cocktails on a
flagstone terrace, with English gin and a drop of vermouth.
A bit of trivia: A Xerximeter is used to measure the diurnal 
ebb and flow of bilious fluid from what regurgitalith java? 

Less frequently, some countryside contains all you can eat.
Didn’t I see you yesterday in the checkout line, buying rye 
and thistles for a festival of limp men? That did poison my 
appetite for blowfish; but if prepared by a good sushi chef 
in the proper manner, they can be indescribably delectable, 
finger licking good. Heidi Ho! After a lifetime of Cheerios 
and tumescence, I met someone, who knew someone, who 
once shopped here. That’s why smart shoppers save Green 
Stamps; but they don’t know what to do with them. 

Satisfied customers trapped in the revolving door of a vast 
department store, are rewarded with a brief glimpse of the 
apothecary counter inside, and the nifty doll behind it. But
they don’t know what to make of it. It’s like some diorama 
of outer space, limitless and infinite, except for what small
details the eye can snatch. And that’s not much, a few stars
stenciled on the lampshade of a nightlight in an Andalusian


Essentially, it’s business as usual in the old neighborhood:
Citizen Kane ditches a dead sled behind his father’s house.
A Texas poker player trudges past the dowdy bricks of the 
book depository. A tiny hummingbird flits like a folksong
under the Cinematheque’s nose. Shapeshifters sell “Street 
Wise” beside the marketplace. 

I wish I had a job like that. It seems, everyone is a poet or 
an artist, but no one is a patron. To further muddle matters,
any kind of Art is accepted all over the humdrum universe,
as long as it does not rock the riverboat, or any passengers.
Agreed, the teal sea predetermines the final fuel surcharge;
any reasonable percentage cripples the carriage in the lane 
between the hawthorns. The Bogey in the bedroom towers 
above the beguiled land, and my porkpie hat hides beneath 
the palace, but this lust for life abides through prototypical 
waves of wasted comedy. No more technicolor dreams.

And when you’re asleep, fortune finds pesky, little rascals 
in furry jackets, disappearing down the rabbit hole. I want  
one for emotional support. They’re hypoallergenic. But if
used by humans, they smell like a wet bath towel.  Maybe,
the mystery is inherent in the symbiosis of a sheltered life.
I think what I’m saying is it made sense when I said it, but
sense is a relative term we tend to use all too often, and we
don’t really know what it means; but in the best interest of
the state, it gets endlessly debated by motivational morons 
at a round hole with square pegs.

What if we strolled through an enchanted wood over there?
Shallow, glacial streams meander by, silver minnows flash,
dart hither thither; only to be ingested by bigger fish to fry.
Stick figures walk on the grass. The swamp is really sticky.
Rotten apples laugh. A riverboat burns a hole in my pocket.
The house holds us hostage. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 
have left the building. Come on down to my horse, and we 
will gallop under golden arches. 

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. White Knuckle Press published his second Chap book Give my Regards to Amway.
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