Tag: Jamie Fleming

My Mom’s Trip(s) to the City Jail

Can you see the future 

like you feel the wind

in your hair-sprayed perm

and under your young knees, 

pedaling your bike through 

a red Memphis evening 

because brother Kenny stole another go-kart? 

When you pass the 32nd pothole from the trailer park 

across from Pop’s “pretty good” liquor store, 

do you envision log cabin countrysides, 

or have you always known about

the cigarette college fund? 

Braking at the crosswalk, 

do you peer over your padded shoulders,

or do you focus on the possibility of baby powder

in the dry flowers by the bus stop? 

Did you know

you’d find your mother years later

in the bathtub – a martyr for watercolors – 

and did you know you’d say to me,

“Take whatever you want. 

You can have it.” 

Photography by Sumner McMurtry

Acute Epistaxis

To stop a nosebleed, 

you can’t hold your head back. 

You bury your ears in hemophilia, 

and I know it’s your first-grade choir concert, 

but you stain the stage red, 

protesting the black clog

that’ll hit you behind the tonsils.  

To stop a nosebleed, 

you run a rag 

under quick bursts of ice, 

and you sit on the toilet seat, 

clutching your knee. 

You can’t stop a nosebleed

when you learned to sneeze

from your aunt

whose vodka, reality TV denial

is only broken by blood vessels.  

You can’t stop a nosebleed

when the janitor walks in and says, 

“Jesus Christ, girl, 

tilt your head back.” 

Snapper Hooks

Cracking backwards

through moss dollop pools, 

heeding the push from 

undercurrents and trapped air, 

my father dips at the waist. 

Sun rays, how they pass through water, 

how they drag a brush over 

a turtle’s shell and paint algae in ribbons 

on the scutes of a stranger

my father lifts to show me.

Every turtle a snapping turtle – 

carnivores, “spiked sons-a-bitches” 

edged mob bosses of Shutes Branch, 

pierced skin and porous sag – 

my father cradles pliers. 

As humidity threatens to collapse 

over the bridge, 

inching towards ragged carapaces 

and wordless carp,  

my father allows his wrist to twitch. 

Thomas House Hotel

A coyote
doesn’t know the meaning of autumn.
We can hunt ghosts all You want,
it won’t unscrape my kneecaps.

You wouldn’t get it
if I told You about my ears,
how they’re too big,
how I often hear wind chimes
when buried to my scalp in warm sand.

You found the first leech
nestled under my belly button.
Eyes glassy, void in black tea pools,
You didn’t say it was a leech at first.
But You wouldn’t get it
if I told You about my hands,
how they’re too small,
how they reach, jerk, twist,
pound on the dirt above but do not grasp the chain.

“Because you can’t come up
And not be wet anymore.”
Well, my foot is skidding in the mud of my making.
humid like heat honey like a press of the palm on the chest of slick oil
I’m hanging off the bridge of my nose.

Sever the nape of the rope
That binds and conflicts and completely, openly, fully
nourishes jerk twist callouses.

Prepping Rocks

Hot pulse flow
under peeling, scratch cuticle
Dust under and over, scuffed, sanded into line ridges
Hands buried in solid
slippery cool water trickles
Throughout the clicks of pebbles bumping
and brushing and kissing
in my bathtub.

With icebox nails
I swallow slate.
Each pebble goes down a pill
digs into the gut and weighs.
Goes down a whole ice cube
pressing against the sides of the throat,
cold, wet, refreshing, heavy,

I swallow pebbles in my bathtub.
I lick the cliché of inevitability.
And I dance with thoughts of navy blue.

Wicker Man

Last night,
I dreamt of the Wicker Man.

Could take both his pinkies
And ignite the tips.
Watch the candlestick bleed
Into a new kind of wax.

I could take each
Cream flower
Nesting a teacup,
Could rub the petals
On my eyelids,
Chew the Easter color.

But the Wicker Man is charred.
I’ve seen him eat flowers too.
I’ve seen him brew tea
In kettles over his own chest.
I’ve seen his eyes under my shoes
And within my own fire.

He does smile.
The Wicker Man does smile at me.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN