November 17, 2007

Grief and Fire

Revenge and Forgiveness: an Anthology of Poems edited by Patrice Vecchione
Grief by Gaius Valerius Catullus (translated by Jacob Rabinowitz)

Grief reached across the world to get me,
sadness carries me across seas and countries
to your grave, my brother,

to offer the only gift I can still give you –
words you will not hear.

Fortune has taken you from me. You.
No reason, nothing fair.
I didn’t deserve losing you.

Now, in the silence since,
as in the ancient custom of our people,
I say the mourner’s prayer,
do the final kindness.

Accept and understand it, brother.
My head aches from crying.
Forever, goodbye.

Central Heating: Poems about Fire and Warmth
by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Meilo So

"From forest fires and prairie fires to the fires on backyard grills; from chili peppers to birthday candles; to jack-o-lanterns and menorahs; to dragons who provide their own central heating--a collection of lyrical poems presents a fresh and insightful view of fire of all kinds."

Fire has contradiction
at its heart,
from that wintry blue part
to its jagged golden crown.
It gives comfort
in a candle’s cozy flickering.
It brings terror
in a forest’s burning down.
It is both the bolt of lightening
that splits a summer sky
and the burst of July fireworks
that unites a wide-eyed town.
From its smoldering end
to its sudden start,
Fire has contradiction
at its heart.

Fire Fighters
Wailing and pulsing, the rig
rips down the street
Inside, truckies and pumper crew,
turned out in their own kind of armor,
ready with crowbars and axes,
a thousand gallons of water, a hundred yards of hose
to knock down the angry Orange Man.
In the heat of battle,
they don't think about winning
till they've already won.

Remember the human, animal, and plant life lost in the recent California fires.

bonfire, n. (Oxford English Dictionary)
-A large fire kindled in the open air for a celebration, display, or amusement.
-(In general modern use) in celebration of some event of public or local interest, or on some festive occasion, as a victory, jubilee, the birth or marriage of the heir to an estate, etc.; but also applied to any great blazing fire made for amusement, or combining amusement with the burning of rubbish, thorns, weeds, etc.
-1552 (in Leland Brit. Coll. I. p. lxxvi), "In some parts of Lincolnshire..on some peculiar nights, they make great fires in the public streets of their Towns with bones of oxon, sheep, &c. which are heaped together before. I am apt to believe..that from hence came the original of Bonefires."