MichaelSpringFMichael Spring is the author of three poetry collections and five chapbooks. His latest book, Root of Lightning, was awarded an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. His latest chapbook, blue wolf, won the 2013 Turtle Island Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Atlanta Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Flyway, Gargoyle, Innisfree, Iota, The Midwest Quarterly, and NEO. Michael lives in O’Brien. He is a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine.



when I play I appear
to be beggared and deported

calculating behind the pawns


what I know of happiness
is prone in strategy


I’m growing roots
that move further
than even the perception
of the queen –

the roots reach down
and out and in time
will devour the board

after the game
my thoughts will continue
to form patterns
far into the night

the trees will castle me in

the stars will reveal
new constellations



I’m tired of thinking like this

too often a squared world
placing everything I am
onto the flat
graph of the board

I’d rather be in the sinking sand
in the surf beyond
the coastal mountains

dear chess companion, forgive me
I’ve decided on the impulsive
decision to leave

I have both queens in my pocket

I’m taking them to the ocean



I come from a long line of stone carvings
of men and women who sang to breathe underwater
who sang to the fish they hunted
then sang to the spirits of the fish they ate

because I’m now under the last street light
before the walkway over the river bridge
I want to sing to the fool I’ve become

because I no longer talk to the leaves in the sun
nor the birds or bats or flying insects I’m afraid
I’ll never again see the stone carvings
and I’ll dissolve like dope in a toilet bowl

I’m afraid the world inside me has no fish in the lakes
and no visible stars only smoldering skies
and partial dreams sinking into partial dreams

I’m stalking my future self across the bridge
my body pulling away from the city

there’s a passageway in a mountain carved by lava
I used to visit as a child
it descends into the ocean

I know I must go there it’s not too late
to learn how to breathe under water


when I pull the mask from the wall
water pours into the room

that is why I no longer wear the mask

I will not risk flooding my home

I don’t care if I am
a better neighbor or friend
when it’s on

I will not pull the mask from the wall –
it is no longer my face



to get rid of this kind of fortune
you must walk backward
holding it like a pinwheel
above your shadow
airing it out
and bleaching it
with sunlight

be patient, don’t trip
maintain steady breathing
until this fortune
forgets what it is
drops its spokes
and leaves you standing
with the makings
of a wand
with just enough fortune
or misfortune
to guide you



it is an embryo
culled from a dream

a red flame
in a black mirror

it is the cry of an infant
moving the clouds

I find myself opening
a door made of water