John F. FitzGerlad






Smoke & Stone Grant An Interview



Part One: Rumor



When dealing in haze,

does variety matter?


It’s most assuredly all the difference.

The Stone keeps secrets the crowd holds dear.

The Stone and I are one changing form,


destination and anchor, interconnected.

A simple problem of timing…

My equation? Never mind – a Lord, I abide my own rule.


Shall light creep in

from under the cracks?


Yes, perhaps, but not while I’m here.

Such feats are accomplished while I’m still asleep;

if the night paid a wage, though – who knows!


Where do the hours go to hide?


The sun elicits, the moon corrupts,

only their shines remain untouched,

but this much I can share (whispering):


Between thinking and sensation,

neither claims to be at the wheel.

If you see them together pretend not to hear,

at least that’s what they’d have me believe.


(Then he moved his hand, untwisting

the head from the poem so it couldn’t be read).



Part Two: Conceit



This, the Stone

told me to ask:

Of giver and taker,

which is which?


Now, at last, we get down to it.

I think I hear a kind of calling

in the distance, growing stronger.


I can fly off into night, remember;

in an hour you’ll be dust again.

I don’t expect any to comprehend.


Trust in martyrs, or betrayers, what do I care?

Once, maybe so, but no longer.

I’m not in charge of how things work out.


I admit to cursing that wretch, the wind,

but I’ll not drag it down forever

offended unto forgotten depths.


Where then, shall the truth lie?


The truth is just this: I say what is right!

Sometimes, around me, people get hurt.

Accept the knife with sincerest apology;


the arrow flew straight, it’s the earth that curved.

I sway the course of events,

but only temporarily


(said the

Smoke to the Stone:

We blame each other.)



Part Three: Ambiguity



Then what of the flame,

to which you aspire?


Ha! A primitive fool, the fire.

It possesses no sort of self control,

expending resources till I’m left alone.


As it is, I dabble in atmosphere

But what an ash the sun’s gonna make.


Were it left up to you

what could have been saved?


To be clear, as a vapor, I’m not a saint.

I’ve laid a lot of lines to waste,

planted acquaintances like seeds


as if the bone grew into flesh

and breath could return to claim it.

But the fire, as you know, is testy,


And the wind my immortal enemy

the home they built me has been condemned.


The rule to face is dissipation –

few would share their meat with flies.


According to Stone, sanity falls

but never rises –


(Retorted the Smoke

with hammer and chisel: Who can say?)



Part Four: Futility



Flip backward one page and find out what

happened; call it religion, the actions prescribed.


Build your church out of blood, if you will,

at best it can make you a decent write-off.


If the breeze turns the page,

is it out of my hands?


I must have forgotten to mention the ghosts!

No wonder; I’ve stolen more than my share.


They enter on any hollow sound,

and lay their eggs at the back of the mouth.


Evil maggots breed on the brain,

reach the tongue winged, fully matured –

if you fear they’re hatching, cover your ears.


When they come out of nowhere I give them a name.

Thus christened, for better or worse,

They answer to me thereafter.



Part Five: Imagination



It requires a feeling for time elapsing,

a leak in the energy somewhere.


I raced jealous gods here and hungry demons,

Disguised as sacramental wine.


In provocative tones begged, Take a hold;

I’ve come on my own, no spirits to guide me.


I show them their rooms without windows, nor walls,

Wherein the shapeless entertain thoughts;


Just disregard other forms of light,

We’ll spin beyond gravity awhile.


I’ve already slept with you often in dreams,

Brought lust and desire enough for one night.


Imagine it though! Eternally high!

Free to ring any bells you like.


I’ll inscribe your name in where it may linger

quoted verbatim, for others to see.


Take my word, it’s no mere thrill;

they’ll utter it deep inside their being –


and for that single moment it can seem real,

as if you’ve come back to life in their eyes.



Part Six: Lapse



Stone, of course, disagreed.

She showed me her infamous mind collection.


Many, she confides, are artifacts –

sculptors, warriors, astrologers, kings,


some of whom you may have heard.

But it mostly consists of those you won’t –


poor men, beggars, poets and thieves;

idolaters who sold their teeth to fairies;


the most gallant knight here couldn’t conquer a worm.

You know, the earth is partly stone;


and you, you arose from it too,

a hole ago in my eternity.


(Standing here looking out over the fields,

smoke is quiet, gone from view;


but all that has life, according to stone

to her eventually will return.


So although mere sayings could never dissuade,

from those here engraved I’m inclined to believe:


Stone is a prophet; Smoke, a liar.)





From Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry)

First published in December Magazine















John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor, and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review.


He is the author of four books, more recently Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014), Finalist for the Julie Suk Book Award, and The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011) semifinalist for the Alice James Book Award.


Other works include Primate, a novel & screenplay, and the non-fiction For All I Know.

He has contributed to many anthologies, notably The Plume Anthology of Poetry 5 (2017), Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry (2016), Human and Inhuman Monstrous Poems (2015), Rubicon: Words and Art inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis (2015), From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (2013), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (2011), and Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (2009).


Other publications include The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, The Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, December Magazine, From the Fishouse, Mad Hatters’ Review, Barnwood Mag, and The American Journal of Poetry.



Articles similaires