As Promised, the Fire
In the heat I saw colors
no one else could or cared about.
In the fire we lost most
of the things I cared about.
The wills, birth certificates, passports
were lodged at the bank. The art
then a charcoal smudge.
In the fire I smelled apple and azalea,
cedar and hemlock,
mother and father;
what they worked for.
Far from any city
stars burned holes in the skin
of my dream time. Laughter, sirens
spun rings around the world.
I was offered in the fire
the hope of revolution and stasis.
I lost people I loved during the years
of occupation. Not dead, they were misplaced,
stuck away in cupboards, hidden
in lockers, in paperwork. I sought
and could not find them again.
I heard much in the darkness
you brought with you. Most
of the captured images came clear.
You lost people too.
You prayed for them.
They died, their lights went out
and others could be seen.
Everything burned, even things
you wouldn’t expect; rivers and harbors,
identities, principles many
boasted they’d die for.
I saw the colors of ideas, some
for just a moment, while others burned
into my palette. The more profound,
the duller the hues – matte-finished gun metal,
hospital green – while funny little concepts
rose like globes from a soap bubble pipe
and popped right out of existence.
From where we huddled
dying stars sounded
like the shrieks of toads when they jump
from embankment to water, gone in the ripples.
Even the thick doors of perception
shut bank-vault tight, tall
as cathedral spires, went up.
At the end, geysers erected
steam towers to sustain the sky,
to hold it back.
Some authorities told me about cold fire
that cuts through the hardest hearts,
arteries pulsing with angry lorries
and crazy cabs. I reminded them
the avenues and boulevards are also strolled
by hand-in-hand youth,
by skeptics as well as cynics.
There’s no shame in sweat, I told them,
even the kind that poisons
the very ground when flicked
over a garden wall.
I asked these magi for references
that might unlock my box of promises
where the bedeviling of man
is kept down, churning in mushroom dark.
I read to them as they lay in blindness,
fallen into adult beds with linen
as dirty as any hospital could make it,
infirmity our timekeeper.
David P. Kozinski received the 2018 Established Professional Poetry Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. His full-length book of poems, Tripping Over Memorial Day was published by Kelsay Books. He received the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, which included publication of his chapbook, Loopholes (Broadkill Press). Kozinski was named 2018 Mentor of the Year by Expressive Path, a non-profit that facilitates youth participation in the arts. He serves on the board of the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center in Philadelphia and the editorial board of Philadelphia Stories. He is Art Editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal.