My grandmother, after her stroke




Here, you are in that nightgown, a girl

again, wandering the downstairs hallway

escaping some dream.  Later I will find you

in the dark kitchen trying to remember

how to read the digits on the microwave.




In our house the bell was unexpected,

the cops even more so.  A call about a gun,


my father’s rigid confusion, my mother’s balance


failing.  I’m watching from the stairs thinking someone

must be dead.  You’re there too, your hands aflame.


Gun!  Your wild eyes.  Gun!




One day you will remember only the glass, child,

not even the goldfinch tree.




Earlier, late Summer,

your glass back door already showing Fall.


Tell me about your girlfriend.  You love

to watch me glower, all of eight.


You run a loose hand over my head and when

you call me so handsome what you mean

is that even now I look like him.


V.  Frederick Clodius


The only photo I recall of us:


I’m holding Big Bird, and he is holding me

up against his chest, his hair long

gone to cancer.


I wonder how he smelled and sounded,


if when he found his brothers with his fists, his face

red with whiskey, there was any other way.




Tell the one about the city in winter, the blacksnow

closing-in, your father’s factory coat, your mother’s

disease, the dusty stairs in that house,

the gathering war, the hooded woman who could hold fire

bare     you would become and never understand.




It is kinder under evergreen, isn’t it,

than in the white of hospital?


You knew this even when the tubes consumed you.


John oh John this place is guns.


It’s me, it’s Mike, it’s me


FM Stringer


FM Stringer is a MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Maryland. He grew up in New Jersey and studied as an undergraduate with James Hoch at Ramapo College. He currently lives in Baltimore.

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