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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 10, 2016.
About this Poem 

“A fairly large part of me wishes that poems could be purely lyric and not contemporary, using the same 200 words over and over to say, over and over, the same old things. That part wrote this little poem about desire (well, maybe except for the stuff about nuclear fusion). The precipitous lines, with their lightly hit rhymes, are the mood itself, ‘on the verge.’”
—James Richardson

Fire Warnings

So much on the verge
of flame.
In a hot
wind anything
is tinder: paper, sage

feverish with bees,
your auburn
hair, my hand
that glows with a thought.
Sunset

or sleepless dawn,
nothing is sure
but what’s already burned—
water that’s ash, steel
that has flowed and cooled,

though in the core
of a star, they too
would fuse and rage,
and even volcanic
glass and char,

and the cold seas,
and even    
what we once were
might burn again—
or in the heart.

Copyright © 2016 by James Richardson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by James Richardson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

James Richardson

James Richardson

James Richardson is the author of During (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem

The week after you died, Mom,
you were in my checkout line,
little old lady who met my stare
with the fear, the yearning
of a mortal chosen by a god,
feeling herself change
painfully cell by cell
into a shadow, a laurel, you, a constellation.