Stevieslaw: My poem—Pyre

My poem Pyre was just published by Third Wednesday.  Here it is:


The Image is of a man,
thirtyish I suppose,
dressed in the discomfort
of his day—hat, tie, jacket.
His is one of the photos
my mother saved
in a cardboard box—
each labeled cleanly
on the back,
with only a date.
This one reads,
September 4th, 1934.
There is no name.

I am intrigued
by its absence—
An uncle?
A friend?
He looks like a heavy
in an Edward G. Robinson movie.
I imagine he wandered
the grand boulevard
of Brownsville,
Pennsylvania Avenue—
a slum then and now,
up by the elevated train.
His fists clenched
as if looking ahead to trouble.
His temper awry.
The smoke
from his Lucky Strike
worrying his eyes.

On this quiet evening
in November
I add his to the stack
of photos I take
to the living room fireplace.
I burn them one by one—
it seems somehow fitting.

The gangster puts up
little resistance.
He silently browns
and burns.
Yet a plump woman
in a squirrel coat
with my mother’s
wide set eyes
with fierce blue flames
and nerve-shattering pops.

The last photo,
that of an infant
in a knitted cap—
pink or blue?
must be coaxed into flame
for by now, the fire
has burned low in the hearth,
and through the unshaded window
I watch as night comes on too quickly.


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4 Responses to Stevieslaw: My poem—Pyre

  1. John says:

    Finely crafted moments.


  2. Love this one, Steve.


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