Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Bones of Saints Under Glass by Jeff Fleming

Jeff is the editor of nibble, a poetry magazine, and his current collection of poems titled The Bones of Saints Under Glass is published by Alternating Current and is filled with sentimental memories, abstract moments, and life lessons learned through his family members. The cover is also done by Hosho McCreesh, whose poetry has been featured on this blog before as well and I thought it worth mentioning. Jeff Fleming’s poems keep me in my seat and I am happy to share several of them with you:

The Bones of Saints Under Glass

I am hiking,
booted feet

covering much ground
over small hills.

There is no trail before me
but a rough, jagged path

flows out behind,
slowly disappearing

as the plants I’ve crushed
stand upright again.

I stop, near a cluster
of yellow flowers,

because of something
bleached white,

a long-dead bird,
now only bones.

I’ve come upon
this tiny,

hollow skeleton
cradled in the space

between two
small shrubs

and what comes
to mind

is the bones of Saints
under glass.

I thought it appropriate to include the poem which inspired the title of the collection. I think the ending lines are beautiful and demonstrate the delicate, fragile nature of Mr. Fleming’s discovery in the woods. I also love that the trail disappears behind him as he blazes his own path just as any traveler must make his own way in life.

The Youngest One Stopped

This morning, I yelled
at my kids
so loud my throat hurt.

I could tell you why,
write it all
down, but so what?
It wouldn’t matter,
not to you
and certainly not to them.

What matters is
the oldest
started crying
and the youngest one

Many households have seen this happen and I like poets who include real-life anecdotes in their collections. We can all relate to this in some way and smile at the result.

Every Saturday Night

I called the police
after three days
because I thought
you’d gone off
on another bender,
but they never
found you.

I have nothing
but a few clothes
and your old car.

No body to bury,
no grave to visit,
no ashes to spread,

just an ’87 T-bird
with a cracked
windshield, a busted
taillight and a rearview
mirror that falls
on the floor
with every good
bump in the road.

I take the car
out every Saturday
night and drive
until it runs
out of gas,

then I sit at the side
of the road –
headlights burning
small holes in the night –
until the battery dies.

This poem is full of mystery since we don’t know who he is referring to. Friend? Girlfriend? Parent? Relative? Newspaper article? We are left just as lost as the poet who only has the car and its pitiful state left as evidence of what may have happened but remains empty of answers. It’s a fascinating poem that leaves me wanting more.

My Only Companion

It’s all darkness here
and clouds.
The road runs south,
away from you,
and my only companion
is the never-ending rope
of power lines rising
and falling lazily
from one massive steel
tower to the next –
like robots –
and I expect any moment
they will seize
my truck and fling
me into a nearby
cornfield, I will
roll over and over,
steel bending,
glass shattering,
until we become
a tight ball
rolling through
the heart-
land of America.

This poem is another one we can relate to but takes on a morbid tone that makes it interesting. The hypnotic way power lines rise and fall and then lead the poet into imagining the towering poles to be robots yearning to snatch up his truck and fling it and the people inside into wreckage across a cornfield is a striking image. It’s a poem that can crawl inside your head and wait for your next road trip to reappear inside your mind and I like that.

If you enjoyed these poems you can seize a copy of The Bones of Saints Under Glass for $5.00 through Alternating Current which will also throw in a bonus copy from archives. Remember, poets receive royalties and it is rare to find a small press who is able to pay the poets they publish so please visit Alternating Current to learn more about them. Alternating Current also encourages everyone who receives their chapbooks to review them on blogs, web-sites, etc. to spread the word about their poets and poetry in general.
That is pretty generous and amazing, isn’t it?

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…


mountain-ash said...

I agree, it's a great collection and beautifully presented too!

christopher cunningham said...

jeff is a damn fine poet and a heckuva editor ta boot.

also, a smartass.


great collection...

j.b said...

it's an okay collection. i've read better....psych. oh man, i can't believe you fell for it. you shoulda saw your face...haha! ha!

it's a great colletion. my father-in-law bought one and called me up to tell me he liked it and to thank him for the suggestion. then, he proceeded to totally insult Sir Fleming by saying said poems reminded him of one justin.barrett. yikes! sorry Jeff, my father-in-law didn't really mean it that way...

Poet Hound said...

You gentlemen crack me up! Thanks to all for your comments, I'm always happy to hear feedback on reviews and on the poets' collections when others have read them.

Karen said...

Thanks to Julie Buffaloe-Yoder's review on her site, I've come here. I'm buying! Wonderful work!