fire side

Rachel basks in the chilly Pacific
With a terrible cold
Buoyed by Nyquil and sudafed
She holds out her cell phone
So I can hear OregonOcean sirens sing.

Colorado burns. Mountains of Olympic Torches
Send people, moose, deer, bear, coyotes, snakes
Like slurry toward the Plains
They are refugees
Like pioneers of old.
From Fort to Fort.
Running the opposite way
this era.

From Rockies to Nebraska
Smoke shrouds a sultry summer
That began in March
Snow failed to fall through the winters
And beetles killed the prized spruce trees
Scientists say Climate Change and Global Warming.
Sometimes, I think, the forest must burn in order to live.
As the Oceans must rage.
But it’s not something we puny humans are prepared
To face without Benadryl and Dayquil.

It’s a war zone here
Military Blackhawks, Air Tankers
fly over to refuel at our tiny airport
The size of a church parking lot,
They must land on the highway.
The smoke is too thick to find the city airports.
There’s fighting too. An armycity of tent dwellers
Live, breathe, and fight the tide of flames.
While we watch on tv, as we do all wars,
peeking through our fingers.

So the City people come in hordes to
My little Fort.
They drive too fast in their BMWs and SUVs
asking for Sushi and Calamari.
We make fun of them.
pointing towards the drying Platte River.
That’s where we get ours.

Funny, we can tell who is from this tiny town
And who isn’t
How one woman can slice another
Into fragments as she sails by.
I wear frumpy, paisley muumuus from The Goodwill.
My hair is an odd reddish brown from coloring it with
Natural henna.
I can see The Smoke Runners making fun of me, too.

She slowed as she swayed past my modest
All in a row brick house.
I saw her $100 frosted haircut and foolish scarlet nails.
I’m the lucky one. My lawn green. Trees mostly intact.
Freshly painted fence like a wall around me.
I saw the injury in her eyes
She has nothing left but her silly haircut.
And useless acrylic nails.
She stops in search of a smokeless place to spend the day
With her kids, dogs, ferrets, cats.

I offer her a glass of ice water.
And she melts down onto my
Coarse Pasturish Lawn.
I hold a weeping stranger with no name.
thick forest smoke in her hair and clothes reeks
It makes my eyes tear up.
She cries. until like all women,
salty water extinguishes anguish.
She feels brave again.
She quickly drives away.

The sky cries too,
grayellow all day.
Pink at sunset.
Ash intermittently.

I text Rachel
Bring a sea shell.
Back over the continental Divide.
For luck.

Rachel’s Seaside Poem


  1. I am easing my way east from a place where people pray for more heat. I am bringing the shells of sea creatures for you, and hopefully, the rain will follow me. I cried as I drove out of the green, out of eastern Washington mountains, into the all too familiar sagelush plains. The change happens quickly there. I was ashamed to feel sad for any beauty that offers itself.

    This poem of yours: lush with fire.

    1. hey you are some kinda writer, though it seems you have a slight compulsion to make up words. we will work on that if you ever decide to return

  2. A finely wrought writing–each word, each image. Parsed into succinct narration covering human suffering, nature’s angry side, hours of television coverage, a harsh environment, and painful loss.

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