Coalmaster, stoker of purposeful flame,

worker of the bellows of hell, adept

of the infernal majesty.


Mama visited him in Washington.

He was lobbyist for a lathe turners union.

They ate lunch at Ollie’s. A waitress fawned all over him,

said he had paid doctor’s bills

for her son; rank


humanitarian, Exalted Cyclops, klavern keeper,

you couldn’t get the n-word out of his mouth

with a shotgun.


He stole heat from fire;

water boiled and became vapor at his command, a change

of state; he was a keeper of dark mists, magus

of the four winds.


His steam drove the turbines that create

reality; he was a wizard of the first order, someone


who realized you could disembowel a man

and it would not kill him right away.



Bryan Merck


Bryan Merck has published in America, Amethyst Arsenic, Burningword, Camel Saloon, Danse Macabre and others.  He has fiction forthcoming in Moon City Review and poetry forthcoming in Triggerfish, Eunoia Review and others. He is a past winner of the Southern Literary Festival Poetry Prize and the Barkesdale-Maynard Fiction and Poetry Prizes. He lives in south Georgia with his wife Janice.

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