John M. FitzGerald is a poet and attorney in Los Angeles. A dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, his poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Spring Water, a novel in verse, is a Turning Point Prize selection. His other works include The Mind, Telling Time by the Shadows, The Charter of Effects, Question Creation, and his just completed novel, Primate.


I like theme songs that get to the point.
Gilligan’s Island told a tale;
I don’t want to hear a tale.
You’re stranded, that’s that.

The Brady Bunch had a story.
I don’t care about a story.
The Flintstones from Bedrock,
Who gives a damn?

But “meet George Jetson” is concise.
“His boy Elroy.” Of course, what else?
“Daughter Judy” is efficiency at its finest.
“Jane his wife” and the song is over.

It’s as good as it gets in eleven words.
You sing your songs and I’ll sing mine.
If silence was a word, I’d use it.
And it would still be here when I finished.


Descended of Thieves

Part One

After just a few hours, I’m by myself
The one who made me called it a night
I’ve forgotten the names of things
And yet, am wondering what to wear

Was it yesterday that I went mad?
It’s the smell of knowledge beckoning
Coming from every fork, and bend
It is that which marks my boundary

Had it not flown here to breach me, well…
Hello! Is someone there to help?
Only dark responds:
I am

Then I went back inside my head
And believed it must have been a dream
Not some lovesick, restless flight
On my line, I reeled a hole that opened

Blurting out a butterfly
When it established
An orbit around me, I swatted
My mouth shot off like a star into night

I awoke to a loud knocking
I opened the door - it was the wind
Are you the clay, the dust, the ash?
I answered, ‘that’s what I fear’

Then freeze, it said
Or I’ll blow you away
The fire was there to back him up
They warned the tree to get ready -

We caught him with the sun in his eyes
And the moth-wing slime of light on his hands.


Tooth Fairies

They come, or cross over, in measured degree
Proportionately as I ignore them
To provide for orderly creation

Make any point possess the whole
And understand the secret
Of the teardrop that I came from

Allow the smoke to dissipate
The reek to wane, or rearrange…
As I was saying

All I really need
Has been revealed to me in fairy tales
They fashion piano keys from our teeth

To produce that twinkling sound in flight
It's a thriving trade, so they have charts
Much as butchers do for meat

Canine, molar, bicuspid
Each fetches its particular price
But as I said, they enter in

And run around through holes in my head
Like flies establishing scales
Beneath my pillow as I dream

They leave as payment
The equivalent of my aspirations
Which is always a quarter

They come only at night
Because all the world fears a human being
And when we catch them

We tie them to strings
And drag them behind cars at weddings
For the musical sparks left in their wake.


Sherman Pearl Moonday poetry reading


© 2008 John M. FitzGerald

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