Fred Pollack


My best ideas come from the edge 
of sleep, where financial projections 
are doubted, the medical question
tabled, the report on means and ends
returned for editing; where a corrupt yet timid
republic yields with a sigh to a king, who is
swiftly deposed by a shadowy, place-holder 
god, who turns over power to 
a khan, maddest of rulers, deeply
wishing the good of all yet
given to laughter and debauchery
in his distant, isolated,
soundproof palace … It’s he, who fears nothing,  
who encourages promulgation
of world-overthrowing, anarcho-critical 

ideas that are entirely suppressed or,
if not, sent back for peer review though
peerless, subjected to focus groups
that never quite focus, are
burnt by reactionary forces and gather 
dust for decades in the files of 

the standing committee.

The Thermos

Our host wasn’t what I’d expected –
all ego-twitch and flashing LEDs –
but a perfect imitation of grace.
We sat equidistant from the wing
with hip-hop for his younger guests
and the one where a string quartet
exhausted itself, hearing neither.
He talked about art – it was all on his walls –
and wine – he owned the patent.
Eventually the other cologned and perfumed 
elites bowed off to
their suites. Still wakeful,
I said that with his permission I would take

a stroll. – Calm night, waning moon.
He had cornered the market on spring.
Among the trees and their tactful lanterns,
paired youngsters fresh from the dance
and some elders in search of exertion 
lay on unobtrusive chaises
or grass. There was no need, I thought,
for statuary, had it been in style –
not with these classical, unsurpassable forms,
half-lit, half-shadowed, some partly draped,
sighing like wind. I wondered
if there were any other animals
in the forest – even a mosquito –

and made my way to the gazebo
half-visible beside a pond or sea.
There, my back to the revelers,
I sat on a fretwork chair. On the table 
stood a thermos. A note seemed addressed to me,
though it only told whoever
sought rest here that this tea
had been placed late enough
it should still be hot. It was also,
said the note, delicious –
the rarest blend from our host’s plantations –
and went on in this way so fulsomely
that, thirsty and chilled, I passed the offer by.

Author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986; to be reissued by Red Hen Press) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), Armarolla, December, and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), Misfit, OffCourse and elsewhere.

Flights. Issue Two, September 2021