Listening to the music of the body
and the music of stars,
by a starfish-blotch of cream in coffee
shaped like a neuron cell body
or a supernova, either way
floating on a brown lake sunk in a deep white well
stained by thin brown rings,
concentric thoughts in a season of fire
just beyond the flickering of my eye
like a novel that hinges
in small part on the dubious proposition
that a man could kill himself by simply
holding his breath.
Last night I was burned twice,
once by one who cares too little
and once by one who cares too much.
Some nights I would light matches to stay warm,
if only someone would cup two hands
around mine to block the wind.
But I am dry tinder, and fire can consume
like the Ganges crematorium at Varanasi.
Did you know that when the monk
Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire in Saigon
to protest the persecution of Buddhists,
he was re-cremated after his death
but his heart, twice burned, remained intact?
*Read and listen to the author at qarrtsiluni magazine
About the things we burned.
The leaves we gathered
so many brittle memories
raked into poem piles
and oh how they caught
signal fires on hilltops
dispatches from the front lines
clean down to ash
that turns a grey mud
in the season’s first cold rain.
Some things are meant to be burned.
the necessary fires that purge
the magic of pencils and diamonds.
With the scent of strawberry and smoke in your hair
I could love you still more.
Previously published at Poetry Breakfast.