Friday, October 26, 2007

Two poems about San Diego Wild Fires


Somewhere between the fire lanes


There's never a good time to stop smoking
or give the forest rangers a day off with pay
and there's hardly a line worth the waiting
no matter the severity of weather and black clouds
fed with memories, shingles and record collections
going back to the Sixties, Iron Butterfly and Melanie
boil, bubble and burn at the edges, taken with the
acres of all other cul de sacs and dead ends
leading to canyon ridges flames swoop up upon
as if they were waves assaulting rocks that give way
little by little to insistence of hot parched wind
blowing from the flat desert stretches, a skull and a scorpion
send their kisses from the grit of cracked earth,
roots that didn't go deep are seared, charred, embroiled in fluctuated
wraps of waves taking up each limb and wood beam
like crowns of thorns, tongues of flame raining over each
man made thing of beauty or the lack of it,
an argument between form and content is resolved,
not moot, but mute, words are shoved to the back of our
throats as we finger remote controls, thumb numbers on
pocket keypads, nothing but dead signals or voice mail that
talks to you without a stamp, no one works today,
no one works tomorrow, homes are where
the earth has turned black, an unburnt city is dressed in grey ash,
the air gives you the cigarettes you've missed these last ten years,
planes come in from over the ocean,
cutting through a sky the color of old steel,
across the cigarette burn of a sun,
looking to come home
somewhere between the fire lanes.
-2007


the cedar fire


nothing like
the sun
wrapped in
clouds the color of
rotted orange rinds,


ashes give
us a coat
an aroma
of singed death,

television news
about how
to wash
your cars,

save the paint job
as cedars
and chaparral
blind every eye
on the clock,

no one home
because there
is no home
left to be in,

all you can do
is watch
the flames
take the hills
and the houses
that were
built on a dare
over a canyon
where wind races

up and gives
life to embers
and heightens
every wagging
tongue of flame,

the tongues
of fire
are wagging over
our heads
as we wonder how
this could have happened,

the fire
threatens to
take us down to
the water line,
dances at the edge of a
coarse, blackened beach,


wood shingles
are cracked
and brittle and
ready to be converted
to energy that
finds its path of least resistance,

the sky is every color of
factory stacks
pouring out an atmosphere
of rust with the heat,

civilians in surgical masks
buying water,

more reports on what
do about the
paint jobs threatened
with ruin
every time ash
and smoke won't obey
and abate,

stadiums
full of tax payers
pulling up a
piece of the turf,

third base for
a pillow,

phones that no longer ring,

a scratchy throat,
a prickly lung,

every minute of a life
in smoke
and raining
as particles over
the city you grew up in,

vigils without candles.
-2004