Fire on Fire


Smoke buoys behind the limestone wall.

Ashes trail flames, marching single-file.

Somewhere, my misplaced blazer burns,

found object of the night. Navy gold.

Mountains tonsure clouds like ancient poets

skirting ponds, reciting Confucian teachings,

watery poems. How the Orient still smiles

on us. At dusk, Chinese verse soars. Swans glide.


Plum wine dribbles down my chin. Chopsticks

stab at rice, scrape edges of bowls. To indulge

at supper dulls the calligrapher’s quills, wrenches

the novice's gut. Fasting alone inspires.

I have invested my heritage in black scrawls on parchment.

A jagged road map of singed stumps and empty barns.

Harvest never comes. Clouds of smoke billow past

skittering horses. They whinny for air, pure, golden.


Our love sets fire on fire, consuming fuel for flitting

flames. I scribble epic poems on your palm.

A clenched fist erases meaning; images tumble

to the ground. You trample the limestone trail.

Heat excites my muse; she jitters before forms

of beauty, Plato’s dialogues in hand. The Greeks

saw gods as swans, painted folly on their faces, seared

lust from their loins. Prometheus steals fire for mystic poets.

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