Poetry Shelf connections: 2 poems by Joan Fleming



Meditation on relative suffering

            5 April, Madrid


Many terrible things in life happen quietly and without spectacle.

The times I am penned inside my own skin are a one that feels like a seven

and it makes me loud.


I pull down a book and find a strand of hair that cannot be mine.

I stroke it the wrong way to make it squeak

like an animal.


Now the windows are open and I smell a fire I want to be next to.


They say that after great pain, you find you can speak well,

but I have been speaking badly and feel about it all

as helpless as childhood.


Everything is flowering and the wild boars run in the street,

expecting someone.




Via Negativa

1 April, Madrid


In the day book, several nothings have made a space as slow as the city.

I toe the bottle to the table’s far side, this stops me reaching for it.

Mornings are good, don’t you find? And evenings sometimes terrible.


We ought to be flooded with green, turned out onto a slope

held down with roots and crowns, zesty with rot, the seasons

breaking into food, the air mad with bees and matter.


Instead, there are streaks on the glass

only where the left-side body was responsible.

We meet in bed, stroke each other’s skin as if we possessed it.


Joan Fleming



Joan Fleming is the author of two collections of poetry, The Same as Yes and Failed Love Poems, both from Victoria University Press, and the chapbook Two Dreams in Which Things Are Taken (Duets). Her new collection Dirt is forthcoming with Cordite Books. She holds a PhD in ethnopoetics from Monash University, Melbourne, and is the New Zealand/Aotearoa Commissioning Editor for Cordite Poetry Review. She currently lives in Madrid, and in 2020 she will travel to Honduras for the Our Little Roses Poetry Teaching Fellowship.






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