The Fire District

By Michael Bernstein

an excerpt from The Fire District:

the Fire
to solidity

its cinder
blocks churn,
get up&replace
each other

in the
frieze of
is struck—


Encomiums for The Fire District:

In The Fire District the tangible world blurs. Each gesture of the poem is a skirmish of inner and outer landscapes. Here, what boundary is safe? What is a boundary that is not unshifting? What is a hem that cannot also be a hemorrhage, hemorrhaging Moon? It's Francis Bacon to my ears.

Kerri Sonnenberg, author of The Mudra (Litmus Press)

The packed stanzas of Michael Bernstein’s “The Fire District” present themselves as knots, or fists, of attention, but take on even greater weight in relation to neighboring stanzas: “to en- / voke.the / onyx win- / dows gleam // blistered / w/jet- / wash& / bright // dead leaves.” The tone is dark (“for the / lesion / streets”) but also near mystical, like a revelation from or within fire. Thus the precision of the word “slurred,” as heat melts together things that had been distinct presences. This is the work of a very promising poet, able to envision the living and dying processes that turn about us and within us.

Paul Hoover

Michael Bernstein's Poems are necessary. They are a vital seeing and piercing through the veils of isolation and false safety that stop too many of us. His huge heart is on fire through these small but powerful links toward real communion. His poems are generous, grown from the depths of a knot in the darkness, a generative and replenishing engagement with our inner worlds.

Roberto Harrison, author of Os (Subpress) and Counter Daemons (Litmus Press)

Michael Bernstein is the author of the chapbooks cinderbook (Gold Wake Press, 2009), the rot to light (Gold Wake Press, 2010), 8s (Scantily Clad Press, forthcoming 2010), imaginary grace (Recycled Karma Press, 2010), from “a heap of swords and mirrors” (Bedouin Books, forthcoming 2010), the transit illuminate (mud luscious press, 2010), nanostars (greying ghost press, forthcoming 2010), the Fire District (Differentia Press, forthcoming 2010), Well (Splitleaves Press, 2010), and death ray (Minutes Books, forthcoming). His poems have appeared in magazines such as Puppy Flowers, milk, Moria, BlazeVOX, and New American Writing. He currently co-edits the online literary arts magazine Pinstripe Fedora, and has written book reviews for Gently Read Literature and Tarpaulin Sky. Michael lives and writes in Wisconsin.