Robert Fanning

gjá // rift

You’ll never want to know what you know. I was inevitable. Firecanal.
Wordroad. Here you stand between two continents—looking up at my jagged
stone face. Remember, in one dream I slashed through you—slant of light
wide as morning—with a vision: of an egg held gently in-between a door

and a jamb. Open or close—you can’t hold the door forever. You pretend
there’s no answer. A mouth like yours—born to swallow every prayer.
But here I come. I leak balance. It’s too late. Before you were born you
cradled God in your mouth. Silence as perfect as death. Then, you spoke.



sprungur // fractures

Hold it together, skáld. Ha-ha. What a joke. You know
there is no world without me. In ice or stone, yes—
my clear black veins. And in every word. My cracks,
my fissures, just are. The lack that speaks. That asks to
be filled. Or not. Why fear what offers—even a peek
at this vast wanting. Every shell breaks in time. So-called
emptiness—the space between—will someday be all
the space you know. All is water soon enough. So spill.



op // vent

In every body, the seeded prayer is need, as you well
know, skáld. The deep spills up in hidden rivers. You
feel me in your throat? Years, layers of yearning—rage
and churn. Beneath body and land, in a chambered heart,
branches of the firetree are veining toward the air. Your
blood will have its say. Inner blazes always find a way.
So go on. Toss a few more words, more black chunks
into my spout. I’m open. Whatever’s in is coming out.



innri // inner

Taught toward sky, you want to know what you stand upon. That all is lög
land and sky drawn into law. All nature Godform, dreamwheel. Complete.
Earth and body: held by systems. Angelic gravity, some hum of invisible gears.
Hate to break it to you, skáld. What you want not to know. This dark, whirling
roil, the absent face you speak into—rivers of lava branching beneath you,
itch of starblades tearing through your inner sky. What burns now, this want,
is later bliss. Is spiritbirth. This black well, endless, empty, all that you feel
undoes you—is what your so-called heaven springs from. All that you call hell.



þröskuldur // threshold

Throatdoor. Firehole. Here’s the black ring, skáld—the mouth of every
flaming prayer. The one way through. Here you climb, breathless dreamer,
cloud-laureled, peaking into the blue landroof. Before you, a treasure cave,
plush tunnel. Given the green. Chance of a new world. And still, you ask:
is this demon or angel wearing this mountain face? What god are you
still listening to? Why burn every beautiful thing? Why torch all you are
given. Maybe there is no next world. Trust me: you want to know when
your soul has found you? When it hurts. So now, it’s time for through.



Robert Fanning (he/him/his) is the author of four full-length collections, Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet, and The Seed Thieves, as well as two chapbooks, Sheet Music and Old Bright Wheel. His poems have been published by Poetry, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, THRUSH, and many other journals. A Professor of English / Creative Writing at Central Michigan University, he is the Founder/Director of PEN/INSULA, an online resource for Michigan poets, and the Founder/Facilitator of the Wellspring Literary Series, where he lives in Mt. Pleasant, MI.