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Fan the fire


In dramatic lyrics and narratives, Robert Fanning’s The Seed Thieves investigates both the mundane and the extramundane. In varying styles and voices, the poems cover a wide spectrum of imagery, including a man moved to prayer by fireflies, a teenage girl falling from a highway overpass, a drunk circling his lawn in a tractor and children scavenging through the treasures of a shattered piñata.

Grappling with death, love, God and existence in a world where “even lifting our hands to prayer/we disturb the air,” these poems turn toward death and ruin in search of real light and redemption. —Mariela Griffor

Old Bright Wheel

Listen to this chain grind,
this cranking wheel of light.
Listen to its slow fall
and rise, its turn and turn and turn.
How simply we could be stuck

here on top, or bottom;
this is an old ride, a senior citizen
of slow delight. Seems devoid almost,
of passion, of that skyrocket surge,
that vehement near-death plunge.

But listen, this is the bright ride
I’m on, my revolution. What vast
distance from here, Ocean City
Ferris wheel. I cover one eye,
and miles away the frantic lights

of oceanfront casinos blur.
You see, I love her hand in mine,
our dismay, our trepidation.
I love this lock bar, this engagement
to the plastic seat, the family ride.

I love—way down there—
the prams and strollers,
the upward eyes. I love our doubt
about this slow pleasure, this turmoil,
this grind—even more after the greasy

ticket-taker’s wisecracks about the age
and recent failures of this ride.
I love our secret urge to leap
at any lurch, any quick stop.
I love wondering if, up here, we might die.

Robert Fanning is a poet and the director of Detroit’s InsideOut Literary Arts Project. His book of poems, The Seed Thieves, published by Marick Press, is due out in bookstores this