Atmosphere / Michael Wayne Friedman



poems by

Michael Wayne Friedman

ISBN: 978-1-59948-989-6, 72 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Release/Ship Date: April 30, 2024

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Michael Wayne Friedman received his MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University at Charlotte. He lives with his lovely wife and two crazy dogs near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. To help pay the bills, he works as a medical writer, preparing drug regulatory and scientific documents. His poems, flash fiction, and poetry reviews have appeared in Tule Review, Kakalak, The Main Street Rag, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Wherewithal, Yellow Chair Review, Camel Saloon, Plum Tree Tavern, East Jasmine Review, Stray Branch, and others.

These poems are empirical evidence that Michael Friedman is, indeed, a poet surprised by everything [he] touches. A poet who generously and brilliantly shares that surprise with his lucky readers. I found myself in a continuous state of awe as I moved from the first line of each poem to the final line. Anyone who can weave into a collection lines from artists as disparate as William Butler Yeats and Buck Owns has my heart—to do with what he will! ~Cathy Smith Bowers


Michael Wayne Friedman’s debut collection, Atmosphere, blends the deliciously strange with the strangely delicious. Friedman stirs technical knowledge and poetic craft together, and look what boils out: poems of family, sickness, death, and loss; a shag carpet that resembles an undersea vista; a tiny human in the shape of a spoon; and a “Swamp Moon” that exudes “mad light” where “Numb, numb are the bug chirps.” A fascinating read. ~Richard Allen Taylor

Stars Under My Feet Outside a Bar


Particles accelerate through paper
while some bounce back, switch back,
which one is only a probability
of making sense,
while the rest skip Escher-like in
transpositional vertigo. Sounds
seen and not heard. Packets of light
flying off as movement from one
possible path to another. Electron
pearls spinning like a parasol in
my upside down drink as I gaze at
the reflection of stars
in the puddle at my feet.



My Brother Gary


You always earned what you wanted,
owed nothing, in your eyes,
and showed no mercy or patience
for anyone

wasting your time. Your exasperated eyes
rolling up and then down again,
ready to chill the breath from any takers on.

That’s just Gary, Mom would say.
What can I tell you.

When you got sick,
you told Mom, Dad, and Rob
what to expect.
Figured word would get around.

And then you were dying –
flat on your back, stomach tube, IVs, respirator,
only a pencil and a small spiral notepad
for you to scrawl upon.

All of us went in and out
of your hospital room,
to stand as close by your head
as the machines would allow.

Taking turns at the living shivah
to look past the jellyfish bag
floating above your bloated arm.

Mom by your bedside,
you having forgotten
who else was in the room.

Your body no longer absorbing fluid.
Your final breath
swallowed days before.





Light, the reflection of brass,
winks in the chill
and tumbled scattering
of leaves.
Naked branches
no longer pulled
in long gusts
through unfurled sails
of photosynthesis.
Leaf hands with green backs
and matte silver underbellies
curl yellow
and cup in rigor mortis,
snap at the wrists,
point back to the suppleness of youth
until they skitter
against dry asphalt,
lifeless in the whip
and whim of autumn winds,
while once tender bark
hardens under a scale
of lichen and knots. Dried crystalized sap
fixes in twists and drizzle,
to become dull as scab
in the leaden rough of winter.

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