At thirteen, there in the smoky
solitude of the Sixties coffeehouse,
I discovered words.
Like the first hominids who rubbed
flint against sticks to create fire,
my discovery would soon become
quite dangerous. At first, the words
were innocent enough but soon
gained heat and began to leave
crisp burn marks across a rescued
napkin. No one yet was concerned
enough to yell fire in that crowded
room filled with finger snappers
and folk singers, all keeping a steady
rhythm to the rancorous times.
The time quickly came when
society’s unraveling began
to smolder too, and these soft
words began to gain their edge.
I was too young then to realize
what power lay in ripping off
the bandage and letting everyone
see the damage done. Days passed
into years, then into decades.
I no longer sit silent against
those who now yell
fire! Fire! FIRE! I feel the heat rise
and I am still here-armed with words-
to expose, to reveal, to SHOUT...
to use poetry like fire.