Michael Broek

Wild Fire

So dry all year. Overhead, the helicopters
drawn to heat, bellies fat with the lake of one mountain
over. I’ve packed clothes into the Datsun
and filled my overnight with cash

A small-bills life
hidden in the garage behind the gasoline
Mom wants picture albums and the government
cheese from the foodbank

Her nightgown and telephone numbers
The fire licking up the canyon smells of sage
and consummation, which the Fire Service promises
to extinguish. Be prepared to evacuate

but I’ve been ready all along. How to say
I left a lifetime ago. How to say I want to burn



Uncle Peter Awakes After Suicide

Second Acts. There was no light
no tingling sense of the otherworld come to embrace

though there were gods waiting
for sure, equally

hoping I’d arrived damp & new into their world
with answers wrung from cracked sidewalks, stolen kisses

But I was blank. So they sent me back. Where I could practice
my nothingness with others not unlike myself. The gods

already knew plenty about nothing. They wanted a reason
to stop knowing, to stop asking questions. I woke up

in the rusted blue Datsun’s trunk, the black felt lining wet
with breath, the car run out of gas. I will rise

and tell her I am moving back to Broward where the sunlight
refracts on the inside, too

and I don’t have to care for you anymore


Michael Broek is the author of Refuge/es, winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award for poetry, from Alice James Books, and two chapbooks, The Logic of Yoo, from Beloit Poetry Journal, which has been adapted to a staged reading, and The Amputation Artist, from ELJ Publications. His poetry and essays have appeared widely in places such as The American Poetry Review, The Literary Review, Drunken Boat, Literary Imagination, Blackbird, Fourteen Hills, The Sycamore Review, and many others. He has received fellowships to the MacDowell Arts Colony and The Marble House Project, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and a grant from the New Jersey State Arts Council in Poetry. He is the Managing Editor of Barrow Street Journal and formerly edited the online journal of poetry Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Goddard College and a PhD in American Literature from Essex University, UK. He lives and teaches in New Jersey.