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Flames


Elder, but I don’t want to burn in the hereafter;
I’d rather exit this makeshift stage
in your courtyard
and turn back into fire on the sand hills near Brooksville,
consume wire grass
and pine needles, the plant
called toothache.
Boy, put on the gas mask
and sing for us, you say, and they sure better be
songs of praise.
There among the trees, Abbot,
I only obey the wind, I eat
what I eat
and then shit ash—
turkey oak bark
is rougher than your face
and doesn’t sneer, the winter sky more
astonishingly blue than the slits you have for eyes.
Put your bowlegs
together, you growl.
I spare nothing
but gopher tortoises,
their burrows, red-cockaded
woodpeckers, their dead pines, destruction and regeneration
the same.
You whisper,
Try to belly-breathe…
If the land gets too wet and the humid air stills,
I’d gladly die there
before making it to the river.
Breathe! you shout.
At last, death, fucker, slut, death at last.
Now go!