Wednesday, November 04, 2009

November Poetry Prompt - Fire

Fire. It's the time of year that we light them. In our houses and in our gardens. November 5th, in the UK, is Bonfire Night, and fire becomes an entertainment.

Fire keeps us warm. It comforts. It can even, for some people, ward away danger. But fire destroys too - homes, land, lives. But it also purifies.

We can control fire to a certain degree, perhaps like the way we can only control our own passions and emotions to a certain degree, unless we're particularly self-contained. But does everyone have a breaking point? A point when the 'fire' will escape and engulf someone or something? A point when the 'fire' will clear the way forward, or destroy what is in its path.

Free write around 'Fire'. What are the emotions, images, memories, songs, phrases ... anything at all... that spring spontaneously to mind? Follow the thread of one that feels the strongest.

I look forward to reading your poems, and here's one of mine from my collection, Learning How to Fall:


It happened at the Turkey Farm.
Witnesses heard a woomph like someone
stepping smartly on a bag of air and when
they got there, found the charred remains
of cloth, some bones. And a man
in Minnesota had done it on his deck at home,
mid-morning, the temperature only 54
but the Budweiser in his glass was warm.

If she could do at will what all these people
did in error, she reckoned on a money-spinner,
all sorts of side-lines – self-help books like
How to Find the Warmth Within. She’d start
small, spend days imagining the glow
of an orange ball inside her chest. The weeks
focusing on the hairs along her arm until
she could feel and smell the heat, hear

a crack like a mosquito on an outside light.
She knew she was on a roll. Soon she’d be
hiring halls to accommodate the crowds.
She’d open with a nest of leaves transformed
to a smouldering pyre on her palm,
and build to her grand finale – the full
combust, walls racketing with applause,
the diminishing calls of Encore!

Lynne Rees


martin cordrey said...


My children curl their long, warm tongues around their red lolly’s, hot breath escaping like the roar of a fairytale dragon; before they were born, way back, a comet touched down in Mexico altering the super powers balance of superiority – these kids of mine fought violently over their choice of sweets, oblivious to the fact our suns making preparations to lick this planet with her fiery tongue. But not today!

martin cordrey said...


Two atomic bombs
ended WWII.

There were twenty-one years
between the great wars.

I haven’t seen your face
in as many years.

Still I hold a flame in my heart for you,
not a real flame, metaphorical.

I have cut the piece that belongs to you out, locked it in a metal box
with snow scenes adorning the lid, your name etched in red lace.

I set it adrift on the river
that floats to the back of my mind.

There are many boxes there, many names, places, and situations
yours is the largest.

I picture it resting on a small Island surround by its siblings
like fireflies crash landed on a nighttime beech.

I wish I could vaporize the whole bloody lot in a firestorm, watch the heat build
to a crescendo, becoming a tornado engulfing everything in its path.

The truth is maybe I miss the memory more then I miss you.
Maybe not.

Keith Wallis said...


wellington boots, brollies
chunky sweaters
and evergreen leaves turning brown.

A million pyromaniacs light up the sky,
children decorate their breath
with sparklers,
Guy Fawkes points fiery fingers
and evergreen leaves
be turning

Remember, remember
the fifth of November……..

Remember, remember
next year
build the bonfire
from the tree.

JPK said...

Fire in my mouth and fire in my throat and smoky hot esters flaring my nostrils.

I suck fire from a bottle's neck and fire fills my veins and fire
fills my brain and a hot red mist comes a-rolling over my eyes.

I can shout,I can sing, I can dance and fight and fuck for the fire is filling me and purifying me and burning away the veneer. I am fearless and primal and I have discovered the fire and it has created me.

But fire burns and then smoulders, it consumes me and cools and the embers darken so my head fills with smoke and my mouth fills with ashes.

I choke at the taste of them.

I am burnt and spent and have no more fire until tomorrow when I will break the seal again and let the fire run over me.

Mary Rose said...

He loved a fire on winter evenings,
the logs he cut are piled in the dry in his
purpose-built log sheds.
He’s been gone three years now and I don’t light a fire,
carry the heavy log basket filled with apple logs
which barely lasts an evening.

I lit a fire only once last winter for a visitor
but she chose to sit too close to it
then complained of the heat.

At Christmas I shall be sitting by Anne’s lovely log fire,
enjoying the sight and sound of it
and I shall love its heat but even more
the warmth of my lovely family.

Lynne Rees said...

Some great images here, Martin. I wondered if the shift in the middle of the first piece – super-powers to the kids choosing sweets – was a little too abrupt?

And again, in your second poem: the imagery is startling and engaging. Perhaps the development could be clearer though. e.g., how essential is the information in the first two couplets to what the poem is doing as a whole?

Hello Keith – I like the idea you’re working with here but wondered if the message could be less explicit? Perhaps show what happens and the effect that has on the environment/landscape/people rather than stating it in the last stanza?

I love the energy of this, JPK. Perhaps you could lose the opposition of the ‘But’ in the middle of the poem? Continue with the strong statements and let the sense of ‘losing out’ to the fire be suggested rather than stated?

I really like the opening to this poem, Mary Rose. It pulls me in, to the past, into a specific life. Perhaps take another look at the last stanza. A different stanza would complete the poem more effectively, I think.

bandit said...

My goodness! An open forum-how generous!
Just looked in by accident...
I have a heck of a time writing longer than three or five lines, unless its haibun.
I'll have a look around, thank-you.

bandit said...

I'll have a go:

new moon
for want of a mysterious vision
sometimes i light a careless fire
looking longingly
beyond its heat and flame
never realizing
I'll be burned in the process
to become engulfed
is this which i really seek?

Lynne Rees said...

Hello bandit - Nice to meet you and thanks for posting on AppleHouse.

I feel really engaged by the opening of your poem (the first 4 lines) - I'm pulled in by the sense of search, want to find out what the fire might reveal.

I wonder if 'supposition' might work better rather than direct statement here:

never realising
I'll be burned in the process

That feels too definitely stated for the mood of the poem.

I think too that the last two lines could be stronger, perhaps some concrete detail to contrast with the reflection that comes before... something that the reader can really connect to through their senses - visual, sound, texture, scent, taste?

Some ideas anyway.
Hope to see you again.

bandit said...

oh, Ms Rees, I'm afraid you have me hooked now-and in so kindly a manner.

Let me work on this, please.

Stephen Fryer said...

At first, it looked like snow.
Like a snow-fall, like
the frozen rain adrift
in my garden.

I cried, a little, for the snow.
For memory of your leaving,
in November,
in snow.

And then, there was little Peter,
waving from next door, over the hedge,
a sparkler in his hand.

'Dad's thrown ever such a big log on the bonfire!
Come see!'

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Stephen. Lovely to see you here.

I like this a lot. I do wonder though about the sudden turn in the emotional drive of this... because it ends on Peter's words the effect of those first two stanzas feels a little damped down. I suppose you could shift the 2nd stanza to the end... but that might be too predictable and what you were avoiding.

But now I've had another thought!! If the poem was called 'Sparkler' then you probably would only need the first 2 stanzas. Too drastic?!!

bandit said...

A slight shift-almost thoughtless really-am I taking up too much of your space?

new moon
for want of a mysterious vision
sometimes i light a careless fire
looking longingly
beyond its heat and flame
never realizing
I could be consumed
become a sacrificial offering
a victimless pyre
to be engulfed...
is this which i really seek?

I should comment on the others efforts-allow me to return, please.

Lynne Rees said...

hello again, bandit. No worries about taking up too much space. I try and respond to people's poems as much as I can.

Yes, I think 'could' works better here. But I'd still like to see something more 'particular' at the end of the poem. Perhaps it might be worth brainstorming around the words: 'victimless pyre' and 'engulfed' and 'what I seek' to find out what you really mean, what you 'see' in your imagination when you write them. Then that might help you communicate those ideas/things to a reader.

bandit said...

Maybe one last try...

new moon
for want of a mysterious vision
sometimes i light a careless fire
to look longingly
beyond its heat and flame
never realizing
I could be consumed
become the offering
of a victimless pyre
to be engulfed
alone, forever searching...
is this which i really seek?

3dsgifts-n-things said...



water fountains and rain drops on a tin roof
nothing can compare listening to the
tranquil sounds whistling in you ear
ease of night as the dawn appears the sounds
are oh so dear
take you off to that happy place in a dream,
you cant even find the angst to scream
fountains sooth and bring joy
pleasant for every girl and boy
take a tour dont miss out
3dsgifts will help you too
without a doubt.



Lynne Rees said...

Hello again bandit - sorry to be so long in getting back to you. I've just arrived back in France from South Florida.

Yes, I think you've done all you can with this poem now... and I think you achieve what you want to say. Hope to see more posts from you in response to other prompts.

Hello 3dsgifts - thanks for posting and good luck with your holiday sales.