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Five Ways To Start a Fire

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Torchlight through the hay barn at fifteen.
My first kiss makes finger-bunnies in the shadows,
an octopus with five legs. We’ve stowed away in the
mostly dark for this moment: lips on lips, only the
horses hearing, each quiet nicker buried
beneath hay and flames and heat.
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At eighteen, I wore yellow fire gear, rode on the
truck for fires in barns and chimneys and shops.
This is no fire brigade with pails and torches,
this was walking on the fringe, humping hoses
in heat-heavy gear, smoke breath and sweat,
the curve of my air mask blackened as a bruise.
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Twenty, and two of us on the rug. My first girl kiss,
the way you strum my body into being, into becoming.
In your fingers, this herky-jerk marionette of my body.
You lever me open like a book, like one of those ancient
tomes off your daddy’s bookshelf, and for you, I
pour salted water from an earthen jug.
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I was twenty-eight before someone licked my heart
like a stamp, sealed it down to paper. There was heat
like a low-burning flame, blue and easily wind-shocked.
Even campfire embers go out without tending. The valves
in our hearts are just flaps: open close open close.
It doesn’t mean I love you any more or any less.
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Today, this woodstove (named Carol) doesn’t like
the way I jam her full of timbers. She spits her smoke
back at me, no french kisses or rings of fire. Just a
cigarette cough. It’s not winter, but every morning
there is a startle of snow from the roofs and a chill to
my tongue that not even you or the driest cedar
could massage into flame.

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About This Poem: Aha! I actually used the prompt today. Go me! Heh. The prompt is:
  • Use at least twelve words from this list: flap, winter, torch, pail, jug, strum, lever, massage, octopus, marionette, stow, pumice, rug, jam, limp, campfire, startle, wattle, bruise, chimney, tome, talon, fringe, walker;
  • Include something that tastes terrible;
  • Include some part (from a few words to several lines) of a previous poem that didn’t quite pan out; and
  • Include a sound that makes you happy.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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