Fontaine’s Golden Wheel Fortune Teller and Dream Book by Geoffrey Woolf


The poems in Geoffrey Woolf’s new book—wise, sly, wry, and often outrageously funny—are based (rather loosely, I imagine) on Fontaines’s Golden Wheel Fortune Teller and Dream Book (1862). Before Dr. Freud explored dreams as the royal road to the unconscious, Dr. Fontaine explored dreams as the royal road to wealth, since the numerical equivalents of his dream images became the numbers one could bet in the lottery. As the good doctor himself explains, the poet “proposed that he should compile some of the great achievements I have facilitated for my readers and reconstruct the dreams they must have dreamed in order for my work to deliver them to fortune.” The result, a dazzling range of forms from sonnets to prose poems, may not make you rich, but will certainly lead you to contemplate the incongruities, absurdities, and occult truths which constitute (to cite another work of Dr. Freud) the psychopathologies of everyday life. In other words, Geoffrey Woolf’s got your number. —Norman Finkelstein


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 170
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: March, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-73-2


Woolf’s deadpan delivery offers great jokes and twists of fortunes throughout. He has a great sense of salient details, bizarre but oddly apropos points to reach and make-somewhat akin to (and evocative of) real dream-work: some seem simply surreal, yet they generate a pertinence. There are also some truly visionary poems here (e.g., his Missed Connections sonnet series), in which plays of rhetoric and voices and sleights of hand abound.

Many anodyne quick shifts of perspective appear in these fine little mini-dramas, like flash fictions laced with ironies and plays of dream-logic, often funny, sometimes even sweet, sometimes very dark, even ending in mysterious and serious philosophical inquiry into the crazy nature of the world. His humor has the shock of surprise that doesn’t quite hurt, but breaks you into a giggle of recognition of perspectives that Woolf provides and provides. —David Schloss


On the Occasion of the Rapture

Most frequently drawn Mega Millions numbers

What I want to know is whether I’ll be held liable for this accident because I’m not sure there’s any distance I could have left between me and this Altima that would have stopped me bashing in its trunk when the driver just poofs the fuck out of existence. There can’t be anything in the code to account for it except maybe in Texas not that it matters since finding a police officer is shockingly more difficult than I would have expected in this moment. I don’t know who we’ll find left all tolled but I’m positive it’s going to be a hell of a lot of poets and insurance underwriters and you can bet the poets won’t end on the upside of that. The math of this event is already clear. It’s going to be bad for traffic everywhere. I can’t even imagine what the drive-thru of the chicken sandwich place will look like. Of all the things they predicted when the Christ came back crushing inconvenience was not one of them. I might have lived differently.


Geoffrey Woolf lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he is Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. His work has appeared in publications, including Poet Lore, Cutbank, Smartish Pace, and The Cincinnati Poetry Review. He is the author of three previous collections: When You’re Not Here, I Notice Things (2002), Bogeyman (2012), and Learn to Love Explosives (2016). He is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and The Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton University.

Additional information

Weight 11 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in