Listen to a reading of this poem

Controlled Burn

Dry stalks of cordgrass the colour of butter
spread on the greening field. There is a bit of wind
and I am afraid of catching the maple bush
on fire. So I take precautions – a bucket of sap
that never became syrup and a watering can full
of last week’s rain – as if that would stop a forest fire.
I imagine I am tending language, or at least
the modulators of meaning, releasing razor tips
of new growth from the weight of the past,
raking stray words into flame, as I stand guard
inside parentheses, such a chamber of combustion.

I start in the middle of one arc, click the propane lighter
under the plumed seed heads and watch them flare.
The maples echo the grasses’ crackle with a sound
so like rifle shot, I look for camouflage. But it is just
the putt-putt-putt engine-starting rumble of grouse,
interspersed with woodpeckers, the scutter
of wild turkeys, the flap of crows.

I rake loose grass ends into the burn, wonder
what mineral traces are released. But mainly
I watch cumulus turn dark as burnt grass,
the smolder and dance of ash in the wind.

published 2011

publisher Black Moss Press

category The Punctuation Field

Full list of Poems


Like a River Flows



< >


An Offering

Controlled Burn

No Need

April Addictions

Some Functions of Poetry

Some Functions of Snow

Digging Out

My Sweet Love


Have you started your seeds yet?

Palmer Rapids



The Thing with Feathers

Hope Rides High

Badminton and the Seven Deadly Sins

Ode to Milk

Said the River – One

Apologies 1

Left over Papadoms

Grocery Store Tulips (two versions)


First Smiles


Elegant Death


When you Love

I Wanna Fly