Poetry: Selections from Monica Fuglei

There is No Man

There is:
no wife back at home,
no tension in the rope,
no sons playing at his feet,
no bird singing.
A small river of pebbles flowing,
interring broken bones
beneath the roar of wind.
No boot on his right foot
no breath in his lungs,
no photograph of his wife,
no pain in head or heart.
A mountain’s history inked in forensics and fiber,
memories long made dust,
written in a language that needs no translation.


When the City is a Scar

The scars themselves I offered to wipe away. He shook his head. “How would I know myself?” - Circe, Madeline Miller
and places write themselves within,
our fingers move to map the skin,
the heart. Journeys can be dangerous,
one turn and suddenly
the nerve crash of memory
burns through and
I am
twelve, knee cut, gravel filled, I weep in the streets of Minden,
fallen off this too-big bike. My father saying “Get up. Catch up. You
must not walk.” Pock are dents shadowing this space
of air-flared nerves and rough voices.
Or I am the closing, constriction, melding,
the nerves, the skin. Omaha fires through me, searing
along chest, along spine, made small by smiles by whisper by
uninvited hands by violation.  
Or I am the quiet. Denver’s river map silvered along my belly,
life phoenixed - ended and reformed, children conceived,
grown plump, birthed. Their names and dates marked
in streets, in skin, in white flames on my body.
‘Epi’ the great Greek outer,
thinner than we’d like to admit and dermis, thick
rich with nerves, hair, sweat, finally sub
that binds our largest part to the rest of us: Triune.
Marked by something lasting, adhering layers
into something tender,weaker, new.
When the city is a scar you haven’t touched
be slow, such things can hurt.

At the Start of War

At the start of war, my daughter and I play a word game
We watch, helpless. Correspondents
talk of troops, cartoon map movement,
and speak strategy. At midnight, we break
our eyes from the news, grab
our phones, toss our own opening
salvos, this new midnight ritual:
Halfway across the globe, places we barely know
explode. A CNN reporter dons his flak jacket.
We roll the names of foreign cities
through our mouths: Odessa, Kiev, Kharkiv, Donbas.
We want to understand, to unpuzzle this conflict.
19 years ago, full of shock and awe and postpartum
hormones, I held her small body as missiles rained on Baghdad,
dreamed she would know less loss, a world without war.
I wanted her to hold hope to the light, to believe.
The Russian leader commits war crimes in the first
twelve hours. 13 Ukrainian border guards protect their island,
tell a naval battalion to “Go fuck yourselves.”
But in our living room, we word and worry,
solve our puzzle together.
The war continues.

Monica Fuglei, a Nebraska-born Coloradan in awe of the mountains, teaches composition and creative writing at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado and is the author of two chapbooks, Parts and Gathering. Her work has most recently been published in Mason Street, Caustic Frolic, and Progenitor Magazine.  


  1. I love the game and I love the tension in your poem between what we need to care about deeply and what fun we allow ourselves and take seriously with intensity that seems ridiculous.


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