John Henry Fleming's stories have appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, New World Writing, The Rupture, and Carve, among others. He's the author of Songs for the Deaf, a story collection; The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel; Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary; and The Book I Will Write, a novel-in-emails originally published serially with reader input. He teaches creative writing at the University of South Florida and is the founding editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. His website is johnhenryfleming.com.
As a punk band from Tampa
we were treated like kicked sand—
a nuisance and a bother
to be brushed aside
or shoved off the stage as fodder
for mosh pit marauders
and their skinhead soldiers
down front—that shit happened, no lie.
His father was a disgraced steamboat pilot with a knack for grounding boats and destroying docks, his mother the thin-lipped illegitimate daughter of a beefy prostitute. When the midwife handed him over, she waited six hours in the parlor room to be paid, her queries up the decrepit stairs returned only by the newborn’s trembling squalls...