Saturday, June 21, 2008

POEM: The Combustability of Things

In Holyoke, the paper mills are burning down.
With warped and lacquered floors,
Shredded dust upon the ground,
Scraped raw by cat tongues of ghostly flames
That gulps the air around it in a giant sucking sound,
It chars the wood, the steel, its frame,
Till the dizzy structure wobbles and then goes lame.
It swells and contracts, finally at once to heave
Like struggling lungs, collapse like laundry and leaves
A blackened soul like crumbs of toast.

And around me, lives are burning down –
Incendiary ones – like rice paper,
Ones that ignite as simple as an addict’s craving -
With want that is cold and raving.
Anger, the accelerant, like napalm clings,
Proclaims its faith in the combustibility of things.
But it just turns a charcoal black
As sleepless, sunken, slack-jawed eyes,
As gaunt as a homeless face,
Thin as house studs left erect –
Up from the rubble – this monument, stiff and correct.
White ash floats off to clearing skies -
This is a petition for extinquishment.
This column of gently curling smoke
This solemn snake-like smolder,
Dry as parched lips, rising drunkenly upward to
The red ever-quiet morning question –

Love, we. Cry, we. Send in rescue teams, we -
Try with all our might we
Expend every last one of our dreams, we do.
Until finally fire is quashed and
We mark ourselves in the sooty ash,
We make a promise to every sister and every brother,
Father to son, and daughter to Mother
Each to ourselves and each to the other -

We promise to honor that which is true:
What is mine in me and what is yours in you.


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