A Couple Poems About Fire, by Evan Olszewski
Right on time each semester
disaster strikes, severing the head
of a snaking train of paper-bound days—
The first semester, Harvey came,
shut us up in cloud-lit dorms while
the wind scrubbed the campus in waves—
Then, the time went on, undisturbed,
it made campus quiet and clean—
January rounded the corner, slithering around
the year-post – Ice came, and we
stayed in, school closed, we stayed away—
Then, the time went on, uninterrupted,
it made campus shine and gleam—
The third semester, fire came,
before we were ready, routing us out
of the places other storms made us stay—
The time came on too quickly, treading
over pain too swiftly, so no one
knows what it means—
Right on time each semester, usually,
disaster strikes, and everyone finds
a place to lie in safety—
But shriveling fire preempts the norm
and withers paper-days, wraps the path
of our return and leaves no place to lay.
Iconic, September 30th
Everything’s back to cool-dry,
sun-baked hot, like desert pavement
under the unblinking sun.
A tinge of smoke is still in the air,
that fire-smell, the mold
of wet wood lighting in the nose.
The roof is gone, scalped by flames,
wearing a billowing sky on its pate,
and the ceiling fan hangs from one rafter,
drooping like a wilted flower
browned and dried in the sun,
cut and forgotten.
The ghosts of belongings
hover in abandoned closets,
savouring the reluctance mourners
It looks like someone chopped a
hole into the side of a keepsake box
and abandoned the ruined contents
spilled like spent matches.
A barbecue pit stands on the lawn,
unused, kind of mocking.
All the doors hang open, resting
easy and spent on their hinges,
like ruins just waiting for vines
From the parking lot
I can see Jackson’s unlit victory star,
and birds spin in and out between
the points and me and the walls of roofless rooms.
It looks like there’s unsent mail
untouched in the tins.
A half-made bed, soggy with
smoke-water, peeks out a window
beside a crystal-clear fire safety poster.
Eight gaping windows still admit
no light, absorbing in chalky soot
any stray rays wandering in.
The leasing office leers, humbled,
the wind plays perfumer with what