105. Here in Topeka

In a neighborhood of old shade, maple seeds helix down,

winging onto windshields, mixing

with the berry-smeared shit of birds and clotting the gutters.


From this wide porch of the Middle West

one can hear supper plates clatter and the responsible hum

of leafblowers. It’s the dog-walking hour


when screen doors bang and the neighbor’s ex drives past,

bass strafing the place. He’s just trying

to get a look at his kid on the way to his railyard shift.


Amid the iteration of American four-squares

and airplane bungalows, the people of this town are coupled up

and hunkering down. Here the weathervane


has rusted east, pointing toward the statehouse, where books

first happened to young Langston Hughes,

and in Curry’s famous mural, sulphurous clouds muscle above


John Brown’s fierce Bible and rifle stance,

fire flagging at his back, blood and the dead under his boots.

When streetlamps judder on, it’s time to go in


to the placid tones of the local newscaster’s evening report

on the usual city council incivilities.

The radar forecasts what the wind chimes already know.

— Amy Fleury



59. Spiritus Mundi

Listen around to the long sentence the land is saying,

to the wind rumoring through the aggregate of grasses.


Hear the soft explosions of all that is tilled under,

a scumble of clods cleaved by the blade, the sheared leavings


of wheat, and memory, memory, a root system still

drilling down, searching out moisture, anything that’s useful,


anything dear. Do you recognize your own shy gestures

in the weft of the fields? Oh sisters and brothers,


let the gentle tether of our longing keep us here

among the undulant, amber barley and russet oats.


And if all flesh is grass, then let us live humbly, as grasses do.

In sympathy, we shall shiver and bend, pressing our knees


into the earth, turning our faces to the quavering sun

— Amy Fleury

Amy Fleury is the author of Beautiful Trouble (Southern Illinois UP, 2004), and the chapbook, Reliquaries of the Lesser Saints (RopeWalk Press, 2010). She was the 2009-10 Amy Clampitt Resident Poetry Fellow. A native of Seneca, Kansas, she now directs the M.F.A. Program at McNeese State University in Louisiana.