Poems from

Confessions of a Firestarter

Someone arrest me
here in this city park where an ivory

heat combs itself in slow strokes
from the swamp. Where a jogger

and her mallow-jowled
Rottweiler have just

spontaneously combusted—only nipples
of the dog collar’s nickel

screwback spikes lie
in the trail’s crowsfoot violets. No

vertebrae. No clothes. The newspaper
knows a layer of methane

hangs over the water, ready
to spark. Or maybe it’s my dark

night terror that recurs
in which an old alchemist whispers

as she sits on my chest, sizzles
her palms to my shoulders

until my elbows turn
heavy as gold. I don’t need a cigarette

to set this trail burning. I don’t need
any learned advice:

Leave your man. Run
to another. One thought of you

will char this city. One thought
of that nineteenth-century

hotel with its ivy-drowsed
courtyard of brick where Poe

played as a child, where he whipped
a single chrome wheel

with a violet birch
branch until the stick snapped

between spokes. Where you wrapped your
black belt around my throat

after I asked. I hear sirens.
I hear the twitchy armadillos shiver

from the warp of a near
highway’s whine. In the water,

the cypress knees jut
their muscled limbs from the green

ferment, rigor-
mortised, white. Like those women

who kicked a long time before giving up
a finger, a red

dress, a breath, an over-
tongued name. Before each of them

gave her face to the swamp which, as I
pass by, remembering, flames.


reprinted from FIELD

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