Daily Archives: October 7, 2014

The Phoenix

Originally posted 2/17/2009. Original title, “How To Become A Phoenix.”

first, the right lighter. 
a plain steel zippo 
that’ll stay lit
when you let it
roll off
your fingers.

start with something
unwanted and shabby —
the roof
of your daddy’s shed, 
the rotted corner 
on an abandoned house.

stay away from occupied dwellings
unless you’re sure 
the occupants want to escape 
and have 
the skills and access 
to do so.

lift the lighter,
snap the cover
and the wheel
and hold that dear flame
against your choice
until it catches. 

once it’s rolling,
run like hell
then sit and watch.

do this
more than once. 
do it hundreds of times.
you will be interrupted, 
caught and tried,
convicted, caged, and freed.

a thousand years will pass 
until you are at last ready. you’ll be
in your home and the lighter 
will roll off your fingers
as casually 
as a basketball — and then,

o player, you will attempt to dance
a pick and roll
around your red opponent;
screaming for assistance, scheming paths
of fading resistance
until you can do no more.

then, perhaps,
you will rise, 
or maybe not.
it’s all
up to the fire
as to how this ends.

this myth didn’t originate 
in a human hand.
fire wrote this one, and when fire tells it
it’s not about rebirth — 
it’s a story
of the random one who got away.