Every Friday night we will feature a short story, essay, personal narrative,
poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.
Helen Presents: a poem from Michael Fleming
I hit the jackpot the night I met you.
Hell, what did I know from jackpots? The game,
the hard, hungry art of losing — I knew
that much. If I was driven by the same
neon dream as every other moth, what of
it? Who doesn’t want to win? In my trance
of limitless blind desire and the love
of oblivion, I heard the gods of chance
murmuring maybe next time, maybe next
time, maybe next time — numbers hardly mattered.
And then they did. I should have expected
the savage, flashing red lights, the pratfalls
of victory, klaxons and bells, fat
men in shades and ill-fitting suits too tight
in the collar who came to me — a gaunt,
furtive escapee, caught in the spotlight
glare of getting everything I wanted.
Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand and England and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past decade he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton. (You can see some of Fleming’s own writing at: www.dutchgirl.com/foxpaws.)
His poem “Play Me the Blues” will be published in our upcoming music issue.