Palo Santo

Not merely a sound,
nor altogether raspy.
I hear you beyond this
room, and I
feel more than
one maybe ought to.

Through my nose and
along my spine, its
smoke feels soft, the
scent not overly sweet—and
corny or not,
you are
both those things.

Flickering glances,
the wish for sparks
to grow to flames—
then the fluorescents snap on
and I know you’re
”all ears”
but would you really want to
hear something like
from me?

Reagan Fleming


I’ve seen you in the trees 
and I write, 
hoping you’ll turn those
glances into conversations, those
glimmers into billboards.

Now please—I’m not 
asking for a miracle, 
just a sliver of a sign,
a tiny little offering. 
A tiny little something that shows
I’m not
the crazy one.

Reagan Fleming

Here Now

We drive past, that open air filling our lungs.
With every exhale comes an inhale,
bigger than the last one.
I feel calm here, though the music is up loud.
Our singing isn't perfect, and the music,
oh, the music is never loud enough.

It was never like this where I'm from.
Strangers looked around to make sure others weren’t doing the same—
scared of laughter,
ever assuming it was aimed at them.

I'm here now.

Now I don't need to know what they're thinking.
I never stop to wonder if they're playing
judge from their seat.
We're driving back, high harmonies burning our throats.
With every exhale comes an inhale,
more vital after each note.

(Written 11.6.17)

Reagan Fleming 


We drove through a blizzard,
all to see Mom's family. 
White dust floated around us,
hitting the windshield like tiny,
soft pellets, but became tightly packed
when they hit the ground, the tires
grasping to find any traction
at 40 mph on the freeway—
the nine hours crept to twelve,
and our van crept right along with them.
We stopped for coffee, like every
road trip, but Dad couldn't finish his,
claiming it was too bitter for some reason.

Snowmobiles waited for us at
Uncle Larry's, but I couldn't drive one
at twelve; the massive contraptions
required strength and weight, both things
I didn't have at the time. My sister drove
while I sat behind, both of us in
coats and gloves and balaclavas,
teasing the cold by only showing our eyes.
She drove while I tilted left and right and
left, depending on which way we veered.
I went right when she drove the opposite,
and I shot into the air, only for a second,
then a belly flop on the ice told me
that no number of coats could provide
enough padding. I don't know why I
don't remember the bruising. Later, 
I'd find it pained me to breathe, one of my ribs
jutting out, ever so slightly.

That night, Dad brought me to pick up Thai food,
and we waited in a booth under a fluorescent light. 
He asked my opinion about his complexion, 
and I agreed that the dull glow gave it a
yellowish tinge. My uncle said jaundiced skin
could be a symptom of something—
something to do with the liver, and it was
more than just the lights, even though I
wish it wasn't. Four months later and
my rib still juts out as evidence of that trip, 
and we found that the florescent lights
didn't lie that night. 

Reagan Fleming


I can still feel the gravel-mixed concrete
leaving marks on my khaki-covered legs
while we'd chat and sit
cross-legged in the parking lot—
after classes
after the other students went home for the day.
Inside, the alphabet played matchmaker and
deemed us locker neighbors for most of our
high school careers, but
we stayed friends.

Fast forward to our final year, when you
approached me with a bouquet of purple and
a prom sign, and we went on what was my
first date. That summer, I explored a
wonder of the world and we
kept in contact by screens. But,
by the time I came back, that
ever-present boyish grin of yours, 
like a stamp on your face, didn't
match mine anymore.

Six years is long enough to know
good qualities from a string of facts—
you were the constant
you are still safe
you are still home to me.

Reagan Fleming


Pure muscle—  
pronounced ribs stack in rows along his sides, 
his knobby back, like a child's dino toy.
The brindled fur, like a short-haired taupe tiger's,
the ears now standing straight. 
From 0 to 60 in seconds
front and back legs extend, pointing,
a solid line, despite his bulging stomach—
he's seen a rabbit.

Skills for a race track, beaten into his brain,
now it's a free, all-you-can-roam,
fenced-in yard. 
His canine snout breathes in the earth, 
an invisible winding path
leads to a disc of yellow, dead grass—
he's found the nest. 
One by one, he flings his head,
launching his prizes into the air. 
Stepping from the empty space
to the first place

The Writer

This poem was originally written for an assignment in my poetry class, and it was one of the most difficult poems for me to write. "The Writer" is a surrealistic poem, and it was difficult to come up with because I tend to write from actual experiences (or at least partially). I was wracking my brain, trying to think up some bizarre plot line and characters that would qualify as "surreal," but I kept coming back to the following idea: starting out with a whimsical world and having the reader realize it's only a figment of the writer's imagination, which is made known by switching from third- to first-person voice. 

I hope you enjoy!

The Writer

The greens of the sky and the blues
of the dense grass act like a roadblock,
a crowd
only rough elbowing can get her through.
But someone jabs a hand through the turf;
an offering, an invitation.
She reaches out in response, and a force
pulls her through. No distinct face, just an
unknown warmth in the smile that
greets her from the other side.
Here, the colors glisten and the creatures
float, not walk, along cobalt soil.
Spotting a fuzzy, cotton-ball boulder, 
she extends her hand, just inches from
the unknown rock or concealed creature— 
until I tilt my head up from the ink-splotched notebook,
slowly fan through the pages, and the
wire-bound book sighs as I close it.

Reagan Fleming

Waiting for Mr. Fleming

Over the years i learned
to swallow my pain.
Yet it always came
up, enveloped
in blame.
No one knew to react,
no one knew to care. 
i just wanted the one
no longer

It wasn't your choice, no one
could choose
The time to die, although
i wish i had a say in it.
Memories keep fading, 
yet i'm still
Waiting, waiting
for your six-foot frame
to reappear.  

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia - 2015-2016 edition)

Reagan Fleming

The Death of the Patriarch

Like his hand, I try my own at all caps,
Los Lonely Boys singing on repeat.
The letters come out sloppily,
but the tunes have grown on me.

Sugar-cinnamon toast and surface-level chats,
topics about work, my school,
the only small talk my
introverted-self didn't dread. 

Music rekindles, it sparks my memory,
those 10 years, seemingly forgotten. 
But which one's which?
Which ones am I imagining? 

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia - 2017-2018 edition)

Reagan Fleming

January 3 - April 11

Those four months, we catered to an unwelcome visitor
who took up residence, disrupting our home and
Dad's immune system.
Hearty meals exchanged for juices that
shrunk him down to size, like a lanky teenage boy,
bones sharp and jutting underneath loose layers,
his mouth now mute and
eyes wide with a childlike wonder
The carrots corrected his sight -
the ideal 20/20 - 
but they didn't recognize me.

Those twelve years before, we had
breakfast and Nickelodeon on Saturday mornings,
basketball drills in the driveway, and you'd
come home right at 6pm, face beaming
when you looked at Mom.
You and I would play I Spy games while
perched in the big maple tree out front,
hidden behind green leaves turning to match the bark.
I'd cheat and choose a car that already passed,
but you'd let it slide and still guess incorrectly.
Now I wish I could choose
the good over the bad memories.


Reagan Fleming


Bikes come swerving
in and out of the mass of
brightly-colored shirts and olive skin.
We blend in
although we weren't born here.
We are three women,
black attire from sunglasses to sandals.

We arrived here Sunday -
today is Tuesday - 
yet we've memorized which sign
of dusty brick and faded letters
signal this is our street.

City of bridges - 
I can walk on water here.
Restaurant owners cheer from their posts,
claiming this is "true Italian." 
Outdoor restaurants, the preferred
lens to take in the city
in all its blue-green water,
bridge and gondola-transporting,
ivy-colored glory. 

Men and women dine,
puff smoke in rings and clouds,
drink red vino,
their native tongue spilling from their lips - 
movie stars, maybe. 
they're the locals. 
We're the tourists here.

Poetry Pieces

Poetry Pieces

I knew I should've written it down; 
I lost my thoughts again

think I was right thinking
too much into it

I float
I exist in the tornado

eyes once searching,
now vacant lots to a
dilapidated building

I like your brokenness.
just as deep.

I am waiting for the floor to crumble
the ceiling to collapse
not knowing which step is final
which ankle will roll this time

like coffee is my bloodline,
I'm nervous everywhere;
waves come crashing, no
stillness in the waters today

for now, I'm perfectly happy
being not so happy about
being not so happy


Reagan Fleming