how to start a fire


by Michael Eaton



Looking at you ignites

lust; you are dry kindling,

during a drought,

stacked underneath the wood

pile, carelessly left unguarded,

your incendiary qualities

quite forgotten by your

husband, a negligence

that allows homes

to burn to the ground,

destroying families inside,

batteries dead in their alarms

with no advance warnings

of the coming conflagration.


Fire burns in your hair

and flames play between

your slender fingers.


If we take the next step,

and lie in the next bed we find,

the mattress will alight

without a dropped cigarette.

Neighbors will flee the condos

in pajamas and bare feet,

as a blaze of red trucks,

bringing water and hoses,

siren their banshee wails

through the dark wet streets.


They will be too late.

There will be nothing left

but glowing red ashes,

the woody smell of smoke,

and exposed, scorched plumbing.


The inspectors will suspect arson;

they will pinpoint the flash point of ignition,

will discover the

images of two smiles melted

into the blackened sheets.



Michael Eaton Growing up in Littlefield, TX, rather than receiving his knowledge in the public schools, he spent his weekly allowance on paperback books learning about the world from writers like Steinbeck and Faulkner. He graduated from San Francisco State University during the experimental years of the sixties while living in a commune, with a MA in Creative Writing. He writes to stay sane in an insane world. Currently living in Austin, TX helping to keep it weird.


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