FIREWATER by Allen Hines


My river.
A friend’s ocean.
Each oil-mucked,
each has burned.

Cuyahoga, the Iroquois word
for crooked,
has come to mean
it, too, burns.
Gulf, hard, hollow Germanic,
may maintain its meaning
but gain context
to what it is that’s missing –
vibrancy in algae,
flushes of oxygen
from the sea.

Meanings, though, are not important.
Everything can be made to burn.
Our words become entangled
in a thicket of parched shrubs,
twigs and monied interests.
Our word for water
collects all that is dumped into it.
And with a spark,
we’ve got flames.

Tell fire it’s wrong.
Tell fire it’s bad.
Invalidate fire.
Abuse and oppress fire.

Still, fire gets rid
of what’s not needed.

We are fire.


Allen Hines is a journalist and poet from Northeast Ohio. His chapbook, Screaming Freedom, was released in 2009.

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