Incandescent Grace


i. the parts of fire you know

Fire is known in degrees.
You know it better than most.
Few have studied it as you have:
with intensity, precision.
You must know it, or you
would never return from it.
Yes. You know fire.
You are able, in your sleep,
to recite its chain reaction
and point to its constitutive
elements on the periodic table.
You can slide through it
and survive.


Fire has various typologies.
For you, fire is nemesis.
You know things about it
that others do not know:
Its scent prior to the billow of smoke.
The feel of its prickling vapor on skin.
How to calculate its weight and velocity
through populated space
or a wheat field.
Its deftness rounding corners.
How it quivers in sheerness
impairing lines of sight.
Its manner of rising.
Where it congregates.
Its relationship with air.
How it swirls with wind
brightens in light
is doused by tears.
You have learned
to move through fire
without being burned.



ii. the parts of fire you forget

While you consider it deadly,
others crave its radiant heat
to loosen the fright of dark
and keep our babies warm.
Pinecones crackle and open
announcing rebirth hidden in ash.
Burning candles on a window sill
illuminate shiny lovers’ skin.
Mystics use the word to describe
union with God.
The poet writes of its symbiosis
with physical desire, artful passion.
Chihuly forges wonder in it,
his hands and arms branded
by the alchemy.
Isadora Duncan dances naked
against its flare of orange gleaming
on the surface of the sea.
This is the arena of intangible fire.
A genre difficult
to move through



iii. heat: fire of the body

Burning deep within
the fury of sense
a quickening skin
a frantic, joyful enterprise.
Though fierce, this type
of fire can be quelled,
pacified in the moment.
Still, true as true fire,
it rages the color of wild birds
(copper, fuchsia, lapis lazuli)
in a flash against cloudless sky.
Its kindling is tenacious.
It will engulf you and
make you new.



iv. oxygen: fire of the heart

While not easily ignited,
the fire that burns in the heart
is impossible to extinguish or subdue.
A gesture of awe awakened,
it scorches the outer shell of
our good, forgotten selves
revealing exquisite fruit
dripping in thaw.
As close as humans come to purity
this type of fire.
Surrender is advised.
There is no use.
No hope of restraint
for the heart is impulsive,
coaxed in irrational directions.
There is no adequate rebuff
to chaos
only a voluntary exhalation
into its strange entanglement.



v. fuel: fire of the soul

Heavy is the human soul.
It does not move adeptly.
Rather, it is the stationary
of our deepest, roughest
personality fighting for.
Soul is the petroleum fuse
that ignites instantaneously.
Its combustion ravaging,
not methodical or graceful.
Just mighty.
Forging prose out of thirst
endeavoring risk upon risk,
there is no sense in fighting
this fire, so deep it bellows.
You must go in expecting the heat.
Better to release your held breath
and succumb.
The soul catches a wisp of string
a sheet of amber rushing
a cache of dynamite
centered in the untouched place.
It refuses to wither;
it’s just that we have to find it
and find it over and over again.
That is what life is about:
remembering to find our soul.



vi. every beautiful thing

Fire rages tiger-like in myriad places, forms.
Not all that fire touches is destroyed.
It sparks life
soft light
warm breath
a gentle kindling
caught open
in the midst
of flame
a merciful reprieve from the cold.
Michelangelo’s ivory light
Van Morrison’s edgy drawl
every elegant kiss on her silken arm, shoulder, neck
incandescent grace.
Every beautiful thing
a consequence of fire
bursting open from the soul
nemesis to lover redeemed, if.
You can slide through it
and survive, if.
You are willing to be new
over and over.


(c) 2013