Frederick Speers

Victory Gardens

Listen. Man-sized compost heaps, disturbed in the distance:
It is 1 AM again, where we are among constellations of men
Circulating within the reed-lined rampart called "The Fens."
Bristled skin, creamy flesh: a Chestnut near the fence
Droops, drops its seed on a moldy STAR, mounds
Of crumpled HERALDs (one, with opened countenance, looms
Over curls of pansy on the pile's scalp). Inside fluent loams,
Grubs thread through gourds, eggshells, singing without a sound,
Up through glorious filth, thick and syrupy as stacks
Of flapjacks served at the all-night diner, each man
Goes for around dawn, departing one by one, while the ground
Retains some of the feeling that went on: Darkening soil,
Absorbing the rejected, with silent company and unseen toil:
Give, take; take, give—all part of the universal pattern.
Over by the ringless husband getting his reach-around,
Even now—from the manure—a mint sprig is sprouting.
Come, we can have courage, and have much to learn.
Let us find a spot where we won't be heard.


Eden Park Hotel

Boxer-briefs, from the mirror's corner—a meaningless fling's
Arm stretched across his back; on another's arm his hand, asleep.
On the doorknob in the hall, where cleaning women sing—
Advancing—hangs Do Not Disturb. Once more
Sodom & Gomorrah has been revised:
Angels, willing this time—crowd, much less of a scene.
Rain of God's fire and brimstone: distant dreams….
A pink cheek, in bed, turns toward the elevator's chime.
To leave—and not look back—is that now the crime?
Watch the wheels spin, the story again reworked,
Followed by that endless moment when you know
Someone must get hurt.
What he must have looked like trudging home through morning snow:
Freezing thighs, vacant mind, a figure all alone.


Frederick Speers is the founding editor of Jam Tarts Magazine, and the recipient of the first annual Fitzpatrick/Thoreau Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. His poetry has appeared in AGNI Online; The Straddler; Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety; Salamander Magazine; The Syzygy Poetry Journal; and The Ofi Press Magazine. Fred lives with his husband and their Jack Russell Terrier in the San Francisco Bay Area.