Saturday, June 2, 2012

Old Warriors

image borrowed from yahoo

Old Warriors
darkness at noon,
there was a fire
a roaring crackling snarling thing
that devours everything in its path,
lambasting the lushness
of gray-green-brown,
the sky alive with cinders and sparks,
arousing arroyos,
choking canyons,
toppling great trees,
as if the earth was angry
and it had spewed out magma
like molten spittle
through granite teeth,
a sea of sagebrush afire,
the oil within bursting into flames,
animals fleeing,
whole towns gutted,
rag dolls, lincoln logs, mansions,
barns, silos, horses, cattle, sheep,
all burned
converted cruelly
to blister and char;
people standing in sad huddles
on high ground, weeping and praying
horns honking,
children hysterical;
firefighters with watery weary eyes
in hard soot-smeared faces,
carrying big shovels
with arms that ached
from twenty-two hours of labor,
with blackened gashes
in their broken helmets,
asleep on their feet,
moving thickly through a macabre nightmare
of death songs,
a whole countryside burning
with fifty kinds of blood
on the sun as creatures
struggling in the hellish haze
raised their swollen eyes
to the dark clouds above,
fire clouds, that suddenly
expelled torrents of reddish-orange rain--
as the aged metallic angels swarmed
out of the east with the gracious
gift of fire retardants,
and the cheers began
for the red-nosed fire warriors,
the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress,
the Gruman PBY Supercat,
the Lockheed C-130 Hercules
and the big kahuna--
the Evergreen 747 Supertanker,
as the arrogance of the fire
was reduced to the shame
of steam, and people shouted
until they were hoarse,
thank you, thank you,
goddamn it,
thank you.
Glenn Buttkus   

May 2012

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...

dang man...nicely woven and i really like the rather concrete lines as grand daddy was a fireman and i remember watching him head out of the house some sundays and come back soot covered and smokey...those that go into the mountains i feel for them cause it can jump pretty quick

Claudia said...

i have high respect for firefighters...a dangerous and difficult the story telling build up the tension well

david F. Barker said...

Great flow in this Glenn, I feel. Works so well with the subject and the theme.

Anonymous said...

Great poem Glenn- conjuring for me images of an older America and those old planes flying above forest fires. Your form was cool as, loved how the swerving lines made you feel like you were on those planes....this made me smell the smoke and soot. Great job

Semaphore said...

I admire the craftsmanship in this, the swerve of the lines mimicking the planes, and the slice of historical perspective and detail that burnish the authenticity of the writing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Glenn, the pausing in the curvature of the wording here is an interesting tool. Like how you've weaved your tale. Huge respect for the firefighters x

margo said...

I like the repetition, the structure so we have to race as we read, and the imagery -- strong. I felt as if I were there as a witness.

Hannah said...

"a roaring crackling snarling thing
that devours everything in its path,
lambasting the lushness
of gray-green-brown,"

This was my favorite and you portray this career so much movement in feeling it really brough it to life. Great job Glenn!

mrs mediocrity said...

the flow of this is marvelous, tension and imagery combined in taut lines...

love these:
"a whole countryside burning
with fifty kinds of blood"

a very vivid, moving poem>

henry clemmons said...

Wow, tense drama. The pace was frantic like that of the fire and the fight of the firemen. Heroes indeed. A very well presented piece. Excelente.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Great story/poem about one of the toughest jobs there is; fighting wildfires. Man against nature is sometimes a very unfair fight. My hat's off to the men and women who do it!

Tashtoo said...

Glenn...seriously fantastic work on this. Imagery, form, ... awesome!

Maude Lynn said...

Fantastic! Gorgeous, intense imagery.

Anonymous said...

great images. i always feel the worst for the animals during those fires. people will find a way to survie, but the animals lose their home, and no one gives them a new one. and they don't know what's going on, they can't ask questions.

i also wrote about a pilot

Sonnet 24