Fire Engines

By Stevie Redwood

I’ve been listening to the rain whisper
through my sleep machine for months
of skin-dry winter, when we thirst most
for refuge & other bodies. Seasons no longer
divide themselves predictably into the year.
Fall overwinters into a sluggish spring. Summer’s
drought-cracked face saran-wrapped onto telephone poles
broadcasts an august reward.
Fire season erupts onto the landscape
six weeks premature, fishhooked by tempest
& overgrowth. Here’s California painting
an impression of itself, bleary & bled out
onto the canvas like a frigid sweat. Burned-out tree trunks
stippling the earth’s soiled leather like a six o’clock shadow.
Too late, too long. Too soon gone.
The ground thirsts for respite & water
bodies, desiccated & desperate
to burn. & we haven’t yet got to the heat
of the matter—which is, as ever,
people are dying who could be saved.
Or: people aren’t dying so much as being
extinguished. Snuffed out. Too soon. Too gone.
Fire season rampages far too long, fanned by generations
of negligence & genocidal engines. Fire
fighters, long culled from cages, ambushed
& felled by many contagions: a lung-hungry virus.
A death-hungry violence. The warfare of property.
By the time of the spread: too few hands left
to dig out the fire lines. Too many holocausts
at once. Here’s America performing
its theatres of siege: infernal, so hungry
to extinguish its people & light
every match.

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