Tuesday, November 27, 2018


image from pinterest.com


“Courage is a fire--bullying is smoke.”
--Benjamin Disraeli.

Rust never slumbers, 
but it is a slow meandering 
oxidation process, whereas fire
is the rapid oxidation
(the blink of an eye)
of a material in the exothermic
process of combustion.

Native Americans used to be
stewards of the forests
by controlled burning of the brush
and fallen logs. In our infinite ignorance,
we no longer adhere to this practice.
The headlines today were
The world is on fire and Trump
is playing with matches.

I have always been fascinated by SHC,
spontaneous human combustion--
where a living body, or a recently deceased one,
suddenly bursts into flames, without
any apparent source of ignition.

There have been 200 reported cases
of SHC in the last 300 years.
Usually the bodies have been chronic
alcoholics and usually females.
Their combustion does not set
adjacent materials on fire.
It does burn the hands and feet off,
leaving a pile of greasy, fetid ashes
that emits a very offensive oder.
This certainly gives new meaning
to the common phrase:
the bitch is on fire.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub


victoria said...

Each stanza offers a poem in its own right. The contrast between rust and combustion--I think I'd rather flame. The wisdom of the Native Americans in all things pertaining to the environment, and then the horror of spontaneous human combustion--which I really thought was a myth. Well-detailed.

Jilly said...

Fascinating topic and your contrasts are eye-opening.

° said...

Oh my gosh, I had no idea! This is so fascinating.

Kim M. Russell said...

The opening stanza is a lesson in science and the second is an interesting background to Native Americans. Shame about the headlines. I too am fascinated by SHC. I’ve never seen it but I’ve read about it.

brudberg said...

I agree with Victoria... each piece a little poem in itself. There is so much to learn about fire, and the mystery of self combustion is great (I only used it in my title... but it stroke me as a good one after I wrote my piece)

rob kistner said...

These were each wonderful verses, and very interesting. The last line made me laugh... :-)

Frank J. Tassone said...

A natural history of fire in three stanzas! Nice!

Unknown said...

Where your mind goes, Glenn! Actually, that women self-combust is not surprising to me, having survived menopause, lol. Many a time I can remember asking if it was possible to catch fire from the inside.

qbit said...

Awesome ending!

Margaret said...

...you took us along in your pondering. Obviously a very fertile mind!

Katie Mia Frederick said...

Ashes Of
Syndrome' up 'top'.;)

Gina said...

the comparison of rust and fire in oxidaton was brilliant to begin this poem that continues to discuss the worldly elements

Brendan said...

Can't help but wonder if fossil-fuel addicted America is that old drunk body getting lit and wandering in the woods. in AA we say a drunk is a person on fire who jumps in the ocean and drowns.

Frank Hubeny said...

Interesting that the Indians did controlled burning of the forests. Nice phrase characterizing our stewardship: "infinite ignorance".