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December 12, 2021


I don't see a necker's knob on the steering wheel, but I recognize the shoes. What a delightful prose poem. Thank you, Gerald Fleming, for bringing it all back.

Wonderful poem whose speed is the greatest highlight, the way the sentences run, not to mention the striking contrast of the two scenes covered in the paragraphs. I didn't know Gerald Fleming's work before this morning and now I'm glad I do. Reading this poem makes me want to stop everything and try something similar of my own. Bravo, Gerald, and thanks Terence for throwing light on this for us.

Thanks, mon ami, for the comment.

Great poem and photograph.

Prose that flows and grows in your heart, that's Jerry's art.

heartbreaking in its own poetic way

Kudos. An excellent justaposition of paragraphs to create a unified whole. And speaking of juxtaposition, Terence attaches just the right picture. A sometimes overlooked virtue of his pick of the week columns is the inspired use of art.

Wonderful choice, Terence. My teenage self, which still resides within, can relate. In fact, my current self can relate as well.

As always, Gerald captures a memory and packages it into a moment that I can relive with fondness. Thank you my friend.

Thanks, Howard.

Just one of so many gems in his latest collection. Fleming’s poems always make you “feel.” In this way, and many others, they are always successful. Thanks so much for posting his work. Great choice!

Thanks, David.

Fumbled signals and punted opportunities in matters of the heart—-or sexual heat--are part of our “what ifs?” (Today it’s codified in a stinging dictum: “If you snooze, you lose.”) It’s the precious gene gone astray in the “Catholic boy” DNA that gets filled in long afterward--or doesn’t. Gerald Fleming re-creates two such scenes with breathtaking precision and aching passion: the botched bench-seat beckoning and, two decades later, the evanescent elevator encounter. They echo each other as blunted opportunity. The “gold brocade dress draped across an ornate chair” and espied “in the distance” through open elevator doors may be a wedding gown just tried on by the “dark & beautiful” woman of twenty years ago. Perhaps the dress additionally serves as a quest symbol for a golden fleece of fully reciprocal and enactive ardor. In either case, the form of the poem expertly serves its content, creating an onrush of feelings and thoughts through the use of ampersands, dashes, and italics; limited capitalization; and just one period in each stanza. “Brocade Dress” demonstrates the power of accomplished verse to probe our own sunless secrets and self-inflicted mysteries, and in the process reveal, as Carson McCullers put it, “the heart is a lonely hunter.”

Hooray, a great piece!

nicely done, gerald, and terence, A delightful treat for my sunday

The poem expresses movingly the long-term effect of an earlier missed opportunity, but is the appellative "Catholic boy" appropriate? I think such a boy would have demurred because "it might be a sin."

Love this piece and all it even evokes. Longing and sadness and somehow a bit funny too. What a great writer!!!

Thanks, Michael. Glad you liked it.

Thanks, Earle, for another insightful analysis.

Love this one....and, coincidentally, I'm right in the middle of Jerrys' book now, and it's fantastic. Deep, alive, playful...he has made the case for the prose poem as well as any writer I know. Elegant is the word. Check it out, The Bastard and the Bishop. May he keep going up and down in that wonderful elevator of his imagination for a good many books to come. & I'll bet he runs into her again.

Thanks. This is a wonderfully poignant look-over-the-shoulder into the past prose poem.

"What a lesson it would have been." What a lesson life is, especially when infused with such restrained emotion, wit, and wisdom. Thanks, Jerry, my friend. Thanks for keeping the gently loping American line alive.

Wonderful - brings back the bittersweet agonies of youth!

Gerald Fleming’s self-proclaimed prose poems in The Bastard and the Bishop are in the tradition of Anton Chekhov. What I mean by this is that they give a remarkable attention to the environment that surrounds his words. They contain continuous music as they sing from justified margin to justified margin. Some people feel that prose poems are not real poems, but I think if they read these poems they will hear the crescendos and decrescendos of Fleming’s poetic voice. Perhaps a way to characterize his poems is by their wildness and kindness; he pushes the limits of understanding to understand. This poet challenges his and the reader’s sense of memory; such counterpointing allows for a fresh understanding of life, love, and loss, to wit: “…jokes are just a way of talking to each other about death, don’t you think?” For Fleming, poetry is a spiritual necessity; he writes because he must write.

What a delight to find this poem waiting for me today. Jerry Fleming is one of the best poets writing today.

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I left it
on when I
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of coming back
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