Fire poem

a dream is a door thru which the dead pass—

we’ve learned little from what ruptured in the rearview
what muscle memoriam lurks in the tongue to inflect the naming
of what we think is new, not borrowed, like earth
like time, like executions and their encores. i feared for my life
when i heard the lick of the flame, like a ruler against a palm but tenfold
and amplified, louder than the call to prayer
louder than the church bells—

the fire chewed up the same mountainside
it did a generation ago when futures melted down to history
and the stories hardened into spoons—

the arson incinerated the thicket and roasted the chickens and rose
to the town on top of the cliff but it never leapt six feet across the road—

still, my room where i lay my head—

where i strike my myrrh on the lip of a candle—

where i fan my hair’s lavender spray over a pillow as offering to the night—

it fills with smoke in the daylight
and somewhere, a crack—

a tree falling—

a door kicked in
by a combat boot.


Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer and illustrator. Her book THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award and won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s