John FitzGerald on Poets Cafe

The following interview of John FitzGerald by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission and thanks to producer Marlena Bond).

Biographical Information—John FitzGerald

John FitzGerald is an attorney for the disabled who writes in every spare moment. His three books of poetry are Spring Water (Turning Point, 2005), Telling Time by the Shadows (Turning Point, 2008), and The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011). John also contributed to the anthology Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry, 2010). John has worked as Development Director for Red Hen Press and as the Associate Book Editor for Cider Press Review.


From The Mind:

The Mind: Eighteen

If there is a reflection of light in an otherwise dark pool of water,
that’s the part I want to drink.
But I get only typical wetness, and the light remains undisturbed.

I keep missing the point, and in the meantime,
these are the events in my life.
Is any solace to be found in listening to the wind?

Not unless described as laughter. But it is hardness blowing,
and I the object of penetration. Here’s what I think of the wind:
It is the mind, with an upside down “M.”

The Mind is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry:

Also from Salmon Poetry:
Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry, 2010)


From Spring Water:


I like theme songs that get to the point.
Gilligan’s Island told a tale.
I don’t want to hear a tale.
You’re stranded, that’s that.

The Brady Bunch had a story.
I don’t care about a story.
The Flintstones from Bedrock,
who gives a damn?

But “meet George Jetson” is concise.
“His boy Elroy.” Of course, what else?
“Daughter Judy” is efficiency at its finest.
“Jane his wife” and the song is over.

It’s as good as it gets in eleven words.
You sing your songs and I’ll sing mine.
If silence was a word, I’d use it.
And it would still be here when I finished.

“John FitzGerald’s debut volume, Spring Water, is to poetry what The Silence of the Lambs is to filmdom: a harrowing, horrifying narrative trip which makes for an absolutely compelling read…brilliantly delivered by one of America’s most promising new poets. We were delighted to first introduce this author to the reading public.”—Robert Nazarene, Founding Editor, Margie


From Telling Time by the Shadows:

Wheels in Motion

Joe Smith takes a pickle jar and latex gloves
From under the kitchen sink, and sits at the workbench
In the tool shed outside his father’s house.
He dons the gloves, empties poison from six livestock collars
Into the pickle jar. He spoons the powder onto a scale
Until it indicates ten milligrams,
Then slides it into a plastic bag and zips it locked;
Repeats that process nine more times.

He puts the emptied collars, bags of powder, a funnel,
And the gloves into his lunch box and latches it shut.
He places the pickle jar with the leftover powder on a shelf,
Behind assorted cleaning fluids and a rusty can of turpentine.
Next morning, his shift starts at nine.
He gets off the bus at 6:30, stops for coffee.
Says hi to Monique and pets Holly Blue, then crosses the street.
He is always the first one in to work.

He goes to the conveyor belt, where the half-liters are ready
To be filled for the shipment to L.A., sets his lunch box down,
Opens it, and stretches the gloves onto his hands.
He takes ten bottles from the conveyor,
Pulls a blue Sharpie from his plastic shirt pocket protector
And underlines the word “pure” on each.
The line is hardly noticeable, but he wants to leave his mark,
To recognize the bottle if he sees it.

He puts the funnel in each bottle, pulls open a zip lock bag
And pours its contents in; replaces the bottles randomly;
Puts everything back in the lunch box.
He’ll throw it off the bridge into the Narrows later.
When the shift starts, a man in a white lab coat flips a switch.
The bottles ride the conveyor to be filled and capped.
They’re placed on a pallet, shrink wrapped,
Fork lifted onto a truck and driven away.