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About this poet

Fleda Brown is the author of ten poetry collections, including The Woods Are on Fire: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) and The Devil's Child (Carnegie Mellon, 1999). Brown served as poet laureate of Delaware from 2001 to 2007. A professor emerita at the University of Delaware, she teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

Afternoons at the Lake

I would rather be trapped in an attic with rats than play Monopoly
all the afternoons it takes to lose the last of my money to the already 

superrich 1 percent grandchild, to line up cheap green houses
on my low-rent Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues in a futile attempt

to collect enough to survive the next round of rent on Boardwalk
or Park Place, to feel pitiful gratitude when I Receive for Services

twenty-five dollars. Everything will be gone, save the smallest
denominations, the Asian crayfish will overrun the native,

the autumn olive will proliferate, the tallest thing will grow taller,
will be layered with gold, will turn to gold, will harden its gold heart.

It will squander, jet, pocket, dole, win past wanting to win, dig
the mine shaft, the ore, eat up the hillside, the birds, the whales,

crack the foundations of houses, force the defaulters into the street.
Dice will land as they will, will cause the tiny car to bounce

happily from St. James Place to Indiana Avenue, a galaxy of gobble,
will enable the placement of flamboyant hotels on the coast

where waters wash with exquisite music shoreward, all of it owned
by the God who dwells inside the winning, who has not said

otherwise yet, who owns Free Parking and Jail, who owns the treeless
board, the classy neighborhoods as well as the ones with the rats

and smashed-out windows, the murderous scrawl of languages
on walls, the smiling God holding the center with top hat and cane,

as I at last step out on the dock with my coffee and say to myself
the lines where Keats rhymes “think” with “nothingness do sink.”

Copyright © 2018 Fleda Brown. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Fleda Brown. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

Fleda Brown

Fleda Brown is the author of ten poetry collections, including The Woods Are on Fire: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) and The Devil's Child (Carnegie Mellon, 1999). Brown served as poet laureate of Delaware from 2001 to 2007. A professor emerita at the University of Delaware, she teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

by this poet

poem
Dear friend, you were right: the smell of fish and foam
and algae makes one green smell together. It clears
my head. It empties me enough to fit down in my own

skin for a while, singleminded as a surfer. The first
day here, there was nobody, from one distance
to the other. Rain rose from the waves like steam,