Tuesday Poem: Jump In The Fire

Toss it all in. The smoke

thick, greasy, the cinders
cuffed this way and that
by a turbulent breeze.
Hide your eyes. Retreat
until the wind backs off.
Seize handfuls, volumes. Let fire ants
devour the close-furled leaves.
There’s something — you feel it —
of the night, of the lupine
act, unclawed, unfurred,
of living through another day.
Something of triumph. You dart
back, and then back to the flame.  

Credit note: “Jump In The Fire” was first published in my third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained.
Tim says: I guess this poem has its origins in the garden waste fires Dad used to build when I was young, fires with a flammable core surrounded by turf that were designed to burn at a low heat for a long time so that we could load on more grass, branches etc as we worked on our large and unruly garden – this was when we lived in Otatara, south of Invercargill, in the late 1960s. Somewhere along the way, a sport of book-burning seems to have attached itself to the concept.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Jump In The Fire

  1. Delightfully done. There's a nice choraic rhythm here that conjures the cracks and licking flames of the fire. Is the fire being ant-like in its crawling, or are there really fire ants in Otatara?

  2. There's something very primeval about a fire and burning things.Naughty ChCh folk are forbidden outside fires now because our air is foul. I miss them I have to confess. Ashes to ashes and all that.

  3. Thanks, Zireaux and Andrew. There may be fire ants in Otatara now, Zireaux, but I don't believe there were any when I was young.

  4. Nostalgic much? Loved it – a rite of youth that has disappeared – watching those little sparks along the edges of the fire – bugs, fairies, pixies – and now ants… so cute 🙂

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