Fire and Ice Revisited Following the October 2017 Blaze That Consumed Our House (apologies to Robert Frost) by Ed Coletti

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Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what Frost tasted of desire
He held with those who favor fire.
But added if it must end twice,
His understanding of man’s hate
Informed him for destruction ice
Is also great and would suffice.
But in my present case I note
The first becomes my final vote.
What’s been started from a flicker
Gets it done a whole lot quicker.

 

 

Ed Coletti is a poet, widely published internationally. He also is a painter and middling chess player. Most recent poetry collections were Germs, Viruses & Catechisms (2013 Civil Defense Press, SF) and The Problem With Breathing (Edwin Smith Publishing –Little Rock- 2015). A few sample journals include ZYSSYVA, Volt, and North American Review. Ed also curates the popular ten-year-old blog, No Money In Poetry. Coletti writes, ″There was a time when I almost completely gave up writing. This was during the years 1973-1987. Then I reclaimed my soul and have written and published regularly again from 1987 to the present.” Ed and Joyce Coletti were among those who lost their homes and all their possessions to the 2017 Sonoma County, California wildfire. Ed recently has published a chapbook titled Fire Storm through Round Barn Press.

 

Photograph courtesy of the National Guard.

#CampFire: Cheshire Moon by Catharine Clark-Sayles

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your ruddy grin tonight
reflects an awful light
the world is fever sick,
it burns, those with feet
prepare to run, those unfooted
left consumed. Sky and land-
scape merge in ash
familiar comes undone
lottery of flame and wind
spins a wheel of fire
missing, dead: the numbers rise.

 

Catharine Clark-Sayles is a physician practicing geriatrics in Marin county. She has been writing poetry most of her life with a long hiatus for medical school and the Army. Her latest chapbook, Brats, contains narrative poems of a military childhood. It was published by Finishing Line Press this year. Two prior books: One Breath and Lifeboat, were published by Tebot Bach Press. She is in a MFA program in poetry and narrative medicine at Dominican University in San Rafael.

#CampFire: What became ash by Jan Haag

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For Alma, who escaped the Camp Fire with her life but not her home.

Porches, steps and all, except some concrete ones
left blackened, broken off like old teeth,
not to mention flower pots and the last gasp
of roses settling in for winter, garden hoses
crinkled like charred snakes on what used to be lawn,
door frames and window frames,
front doors painted in a particular shade,
windows blasted into shards,
easy chairs, TVs, refrigerators and the art
magneted on them made by childrengrandchildren
niecesnephewsthatcutekiddownthestreet,
their toy firetrucks and dolls incinerated, their
bike frames and swingsets rendered skeletal.

How many photographs, cherished memories,
diplomas, licenses, bills, tax documents,
check stubs, notebooks, journals, novels, poems,
screenplays, love letters lie in the cinders?

How many toothbrushes and dentures, housecoats
and sport coats, bridal gowns and work boots,
bathing suits and raincoats, baseball caps and
wool scarves?

An open-mouthed deer with fire-puckered skin
pressed into the ash, along with uncountable
burrowing creatures, rabbits that could not hop
fast enough, birds, singed, then downed,
not to mention those with eyelashes and lips,
crying their last, consumed by what they could
see coming at them.

Paradise, Magalia, Nimshew, North Pines,
Morgan Ridge, Concow, Yankee Hill, Coutelenc,
South Pines, Mesilla Valley, Fir Haven, Berry Creek.

Under it all:
bones and bones and bones and bones.

And finally, after the flames did their job
consuming everything in their path—
the 85 counted and the still-uncountable souls
of the formerly two-legged and four-legged,
the winged and those that crawled and slithered—
the much-prayed for rain arrived, the day before the day
of gratitude, quenching the last of the hot spots,
muddying the ravaged earth, further entombing
the dead, clearing the air for hundreds of miles.

Those of us left downwind took deep gulps,
raised our faces to the blesséd drops, grateful
to no longer inhale the particulate of people,
their towns, their possessions, their lives,
those we may not have known but whose
molecules circulate in our bloodstreams,
who lie embedded in us.

They are ours now, we who breathe under
fresh, blue skies.

 

 

Jan Haag teaches journalism and creative writing at Sacramento City College where she advises campus publications. Jan is the author of a book of poems, Companion Spirit, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press. She leads weekly creative writing workshops in Sacramento, has written two novels and had work published in many journals and anthologies. She is also the co-publisher of River Rock Books in Sacramento.

#CampFire: 101 Burning by J. Khan

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Too soon to sort
the loss. Spin cycle
wobbles vowels,

as they burst,
smoke snuffs Paradise.
Skin sloughs on 99.

I donate
our fleece to the shelter.

Fortunes reside
along the 101 where castles
carve the light.

Evacuees pitch tents at Walmart,
search the clothing pile for warmth.

A few still qualify
for the Evening News
costume show.

The gymnasium
lacks a floor. Sacramento kneels
before funds disappear.

Road blocks tumble,
canyons creep. Truth reposes
comfortably.

Perhaps I shouldn’t,
but I believe in America. Why,
so many ask,

as battalions
of prisoners arrive
to douse the fire,

to sort the missing
from the ash.

 

 

J. Khan lives and works in the Midwest. He has published over thirty poems in journals such as Clockwise Cat, Rigorous, Unlikely Stories, I-70 Review, Fifth Estate, Writers Resist, Barzakh, Pure Slush, and shufPoetry. He is finishing a chapbook and beginning book length manuscript.