I think we are ready to start having relationships with other people

We were so ahead of ourselves:
a bridled smile
eating its own leather.

Little pain storms we talked
through the cringing middle of,
then washed our hands.

Our poor peripherals, straining themselves
through half-strength Tuesday dinners,
dark wine. Sort-of-love’s only purblind.

Some confessions stick like stove filth.
Some houseplants die suddenly
and others are dying the whole time.



Fine idea

I thought it was a fine idea and I thought it was a terrible idea
                              and I had doubts            and a friend said you must
and another said why
and I thought it could be useful                 or I thought it could be efficacious
and I thought it would be exposing and I would never do it
and I defended it in a car by saying there are stories that aren’t told
                              and they could be told more
                              or there could be models where there are
                                                            very few models
and I met my proper love and I said the thing about the stories and the models
and I believed my own words and I doubted my own words


There are people in wrong boots, heavy with hunting tackle
                    and they are crossing the ice, and the ice is singing and cracking


There are people playing sets of tennis, set after set after set
                    they are forgetting their jobs, they are forgetting their children
the meniscus in their knees is snapping like rubber bands
and they are playing and playing



Joan Fleming is the author of two collections of poetry, The Same as Yes (VUP, 2011) and Failed Love Poems (VUP, 2015), and the chapbook Two Dreams in Which Things Are Taken (Duets). Her new collection Dirt is forthcoming. She holds a PhD in ethnopoetics from Monash University, 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.