Plain American Language

I cut a sliver/of WC William's finger
and placed it inside/my philosophy...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

After Hearing About the California Forest Fires, 2007 (slightly revised)

"Who set the House of Beauty burning?"
-- " The House of Beauty" Mark Doty

I heard it passed through Malibu
and burned to the ground the homes
of some famous people -- at least
I think I heard right, since the news
was in Spanish and I was only half-
paying attention. The wind
is the enemy, said Schwartzenneger
underneath the Spanish dubbing.
Who fights with wind? We do:
to save what's beautiful.
What a strange harbinger of fall:
the wind our enemy, fire our enemy,
Malibu burnt, all those trees...
I saw it again on the afternoon news,
again in Spanish, again only half-sure
of factual details. That was a few
days ago. Since then its disappeared,
no smoky after-thought, no comment.

1 comment:

Olgasmic said...

Hey Andrew - this is such an interesting premise for a poem! Hearing the news of this in another country must be a completely different experience. One thing I don't know about are the qualifiers here (at least I thought I hear [you heard well to have written about it];I was only half paying attention [again, you wrote about it]). I think the "it" in the first line is awkward -- do you mean the fire? If so, the fire set houses on fire? Something may need to be done with the first phrase. I really love the line "the wind our enemy, fire our enemy," it's reminiscent of a lot of things going on in this country right now. I think the last line is good, though I would take out the adjective "smoky" and just have "no after-thought, no comment" to keep the language uniform throughout -- you use adjectives so sparingly, and that particular one isn't strong enough or necessary enough to break the patter (Oh, if only I practiced what I preach :) ) I definitely want more from this poem (things I found interesting) -- I want to hear more about this "beautiful", and also about hearing all this in Spanish -- perhaps some Spanish in the poem? I think it would bring an authentic touch. Hope this helps! Eric just mentioned you the other day -- he hopes you are doing well :)