fireside, a poem

in the cool draft of a November Sunday

the fireplace called my name.

maybe it was

the poems I had just finished reading,

the frigid,

what felt like frosty,

tile floor,

or perhaps

it was the fact the baby was finally asleep.

whichever it was,

I was feeling inspired

and it seemed right,

almost human,

to be warmed by open flame

with an empty page before me.

the aesthetics alone

could make anyone think they're an artist.

for centuries,

if not all of time,

man has picked his brain by his orange flickering friend.

sometimes I look into the dancing inferno

and catch glimpses of history:

the Neanderthals, grunting and telling stories of hunting

giant, hairy mammoths,

an orator recites the battle of Beowulf and Grendel,

Judas makes a profit of thirty pieces of silver,

Arthur picks his knights

and they go table shopping,

Genghis Khan informs his army

at dawn they begin training for archery

while reverse horseback riding,

athletes of the world gather in Athens to compete,

and Paul Laurence Dunbar pens stanzas that shape a culture.

I wonder if they ever got lost in

the blowing ribbons of flame,

if they ever looked and saw glimpses

of the future

as I did

of the past.

I wonder if they ever saw me

sprawled out on the floor,

Flaming Hot Cheeto residue on my lips,

a hole in my shirt

and a cold Red Stripe in my hand

with history passing before me

while I thought about last winter's inflated gas bill

and debated shutting the whole show down.

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