We thought we’d tamed her, and that made us men,

that we had crammed her into some small domestic sphere

content to roast our meat and bake our bread,

to warm our feet and our bed.


She rose against us.


She rose and burned it all,

our homes, our crops, our makeshift sheds,

our livelihoods, our cars, our trucks

our power stations, pumping out smoke,

our sawmills, our shopping malls, our greedy bars,

our TV sets, our mobile phones, our soft hands,

our plump bellies, our plastic bottles,

our crisp Egyptian cotton sheets.


She bared her teeth and claws.


What fools we were. What fools.


For Brendan at Earthweal. 

5 thoughts on “Fire

  1. Domestication of fire defines the broad sweep of human civilization, but an over-stoked climate is roaring up a hearth that’s burning all. If domestication “made us men,” then what does an infernal nature make us? The iteration of what burns in that process is drawn finely and fiercely here. As Rilke said we have to learn the live the questions — I hope earthweal can further that work. Thanks for pitching in.


  2. Ohh great rant of a poem! I love “our plump bellies, our plastic bottles, our crisp Egyptian cotton sheets” And of course your ending is spot on.
    Thank you.


  3. I heartily applaud every word. If any humans survive the decade(s?) ahead, they will look back in anger and astonishment at how long we remained oblivious, left warnings unheeded, blindly kept on pursuing the Myth of More. I read the first warnings about climate impacting the environment came in 1867!!!!!!! More recent warnings came 40 years ago, when I was young, and increased every year, the words of scientists and the work of inventors of clean energy systems being wilfully suppressed by government and industry so they could all make their billions. At what cost. Most of humanity and all of the wild creatures will pay the price, while the few billionaires retreat to their ivory towers. Time to put a screeching stop to it all. Everyone should be in the streets everywhere demanding government LEGISLATE the needed changes. GAH! (drives me a little bit over the edge. Happy you are adding your voice to the conversation.)


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