Norman Fischer


Instead of gaps
or thunderheads


old dudes in history
relieve the pressure

lets off steam ….                it’s them …….

    [here’s her hand,
              take it—]

she’s  sure   sure   
he’ll return (he won’t)

willing to die in that wait
[doom and dark, curtain falls]
[but cannot see the blood]

And the others are where
With their various words?

Their long discussions
Plucked at long ago

Heat and habitation
Hesitancy of having in hand

Giving back then to “you”
And that’s heart that


Words out.              In that
That that insists
Pure and simple particles
Words I’ll never know
To think of calms the mind
Taking such steps as characteristic
A total confidence makes something of it

I want to tell of
Without “you”

I say that’s heart


In necessity

Silences negate horizon
No one prevents that

Poem (sleepwalking)

During a day after many dreams
Of night before that day
Unremembered will the day as well
With its ordinary activities
Be forgot?  The past’s the
Aftermath of a day done
Its day and nighttime experiences
Folded into differences
In memory flickers not bled
Dry with ideas and desires—
Statements of fact are fountainheads
Of culmination appearing
On pages lit suddenly by sun
At dawn
At night
You can switch on
A light by your bed
If you can’t sleep
And don’t want to wait in the dark
For sleep’s arrival
Out of the day’s weariness
Done, sleep tucks today
Into yesterday
A recent not a distant past
Not history because nothing’s
Explained as you sleep and
Move sleepwalking through a day…
That one, this one, that one

Nothing in mind

Nothing in mind
But these four words
These three words
Everyday goes by

Then another till
This day comes
This day of the word

Of the four, the three
Words, the letters
Transposed into a
Picture of a time

Coming later, now,
Here where space
Occludes where the

Person you are resides
In the middle
Of the alphabet

More wind than ever

Windy in here
Wedding banners whip
Growls at day’s end
In line with the others whipped
‘Ifs’ not marching
As we could count the silences
Everything happens now
A fly at the pane
Nothing happens now
Where does this go from here?
How some hand limns it
Really, really truly

Before the light was made

Ocean swaggers out my window, washing
Constant in or out but
In or out ocean’s
Going nowhere but inside itself this
Big liquid expanse can’t touch its end
Peaceful pond under azure sky in Maine
High country lake
Not moving at all
But glints and reflects
As mirror peaks above
River by my house then
Steady rushes on to destination,
The sea, the sea, or so they
Say but not the one
Outside my door
Water pours from sky today
Raindrops, raindrops rapid
To flood a house or street
Fill lake or river
To overbrim
Wash away a town
People holler on roofs
To copters cruising by
But a sea holds water,
Sky, knows its way
Big deep and energetic sea
Ocean mother, ‘Ma’ in China
Some people name their children
Ocean, Ocean Vuong, Ocean
Kan, Ocean Kong,
Ocean Smith or MacAfee
Though no one contains an ocean
Or everyone contains an ocean
Spirit hovering over the chaotic deep
And dark Ocean’s face
Before light was made by speech
Light before that verbal light
The sun the moon the stars for signs
Before sound and ear to hear
People ought to be better than they are
And only people think so

Norman Fischer is a poet, essayist, and Zen Buddhist priest whose Selected Poems 1980-2013 is just out from Chax Press. His Museum of Capitalism (2021) was recently published by Talisman House. And the essay collection, Experience: Thinking. Writing, Language, and Religion, appeared in the University of Alabama’s Poetics Series in 2015. He lives on the northern California coast with his wife Kathie, also a Zen Buddhist priest.

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Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.