Poetry Friday – fiery edition

12 May

Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here this week.

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In western Canada, we’ve had an extra early start to the forest fire season this year. Last week the entire town of Fort McMurray in north-east Albert had to evacuate (85,000+ people).  A fire that had started just few days earlier was whipped into a frenzy by winds and aided by extreme dryness, no leaves on the trees, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. It moved so quickly and unexpectedly, some people had only minutes to gather their things and flee town.

The fire, that continues to burn, has left that city and moved into less populated areas. Now comes evaluating the damage and rebuilding. My heart goes out to the people of Fort McMurray.

Forest fires are a common phenomenon of western Canadian summers. Though I have never been threatened by one, I have seen enough news footage to imagine the experience. I wrote the poem below some years ago.


This picture was the prompt that helped inspire the poem below.

Forest Usurper

Born a common spark
baby tongue creeps, crawls
nibbles grasses, needles, twigs.

Lambent cub
egged on by wind
runs and leaps, laughs and licks.

Hungry adolescent hunts
smorgasbord of pine, hemlock, fir,
belches plumes of caustic smoke.

Suffocating stench
stampedes forest creatures
to the glittering river

sends wild-eyed homeowners in 4x4s
loaded with papers, photos, pets
traffic-jam creeping from his pounce.

He is king of the heat now
dancing on the forest crown
swishing his tail on the summit.

Buzzing dragonflies spit
bucket after bucket of pink.
Under his gauzy skin, beast continues to binge.

Only heaven’s tears carry the clout
to say Enough, to stop the treason.
Still he plots, smoldering in caves of blackened roots.

Copyright©2009 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)


Interested in forest fires? Macleans Magazine‘s “Q&A: What you need to know about the science of forest fires” has lots of interesting information.

I thought of the many teachers and educators that contribute to Poetry Friday when I read the story “When evacuation was ordered, Fort McMurray principal fled with busload of students.” I’m sure all of you would show the same courage, presence of mind, and dedication to the kids that she did!

Now it’s your turn!  Please click on the Mr. Linky button below and leave your links on the page that opens.  Thank you!


Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Nature, Poetry Friday


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34 responses to “Poetry Friday – fiery edition

  1. margaretsmn

    May 12, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    That “king of heat” is so menacing and yet beautiful in that photo. Your word choices all smell of forest fire.
    Thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mbhmaine

    May 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Love those active verbs! What a powerful photo and poem. Thanks for hosting and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brenda Davis Harsham

    May 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Your words show the growth and movement of it, the panic and devastation of biblical proportion. Great poem, sad events. My heart goes out to Fort McMurray and the valiant fire fighters, too. I’m in this week with Driftwood Phoenix, which would seem to have a similar theme, but mine went in a different direction. Thanks for hosting and posting early!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura Purdie Salas

    May 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Wow–great title, and I love all the visceral lines. You have made the fire come alive! Thanks for hosting, Violet!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. April Halprin Wayland

    May 12, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    The phrase “king of the heat” pounced at me, too. And yes, as Laura says–it’s visceral. Thank you for bringing this news item up close and personal. Sending rains in my dreams ~

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dmayr

    May 12, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for hosting this week. You’ve packed a whole lot into that poem, Violet! Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. dorireads

    May 12, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I have friends in Colorado who had to evacuate a while back when the Colorado fires were so bad. Fortunately their house remained safe. Your poignant poem captures the helplessness in the face of the wind and the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robyn Hood Black

    May 12, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you for hosting today, Violet. Your poem aptly captures how quickly those fires get out of control. I’ve been listening to reports on NPR about that fire; heartbreaking to know any relief could only come with a change in weather. Thoughts and prayers for all involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    May 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    My heart goes out to the people of Fort McMurray as well. It’s hard to forget the stench of Australian bushfire. Scary stuff. The “playfulness” of your first few stanzas is very effective, creating an eerie and uneasy quality because we know what’s coming. Thanks for hosting today, Violet.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Matt Forrest Esenwine

    May 12, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Very powerful, Violet – and love the “caves of blackened roots,” which can have multiple meanings. I feel so bad for the residents of that area….here’s hoping their lives can get back to normal soon.

    And thanks for hosting, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Linda Baie

    May 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I have been so saddened by the terrible fire that has happened at Fort MacMurray and on, Violet. We know well here in Colorado how terrible it can be. We waited several years ago while a fire neared our cabin in the mountains. While it was okay, it was awful to see the forrest nearby blackened, and to think of the habitat lost and its animals, too. Your poem shows what feels right, that “beast continues to binge”.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maureen Sudlow

    May 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    impossible to say ‘like’ to such tragedy

    Liked by 1 person

  13. readingtothecore

    May 12, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    The situation in Fort MacMurray is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine having to rebuild your life after that kind of devestation. That photo is haunting, as are your lines about the “king of the heat”. Thank you for hosting today, Violet!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Julie Larios

    May 13, 2016 at 2:51 am

    We had terrible wildfires in Washington last summer, too – I wrote a poem about one of the biggest burns. But that fire was nothing like the one that destroyed Fort McMurray. How terrifying. Glad you felt inspired to write about it.
    And thanks for hosting the round-up this week, Violet. My post at the Drift Record today was written by a teenager named Ariel Miller, who published it first in Teen Ink. It’s the opening poem in Teen Ink’s new anthology, Leave This Song Behind: Teen Poetry at Its Best and that subtitle is absolutely true!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. maryleehahn

    May 13, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Wow. First the photo (I hope the deer survived…I can’t imagine how many animals did not), then your poem (it’s masterful the way you personify the fire, make it grow, leave it smoldering), and finally that principal with her busload of students and all those unprecedented decisions she had to make on the fly. She’s an inspiration and a great reminder of the magnitude of our job — the amount of trust parents put in us every day for all the big and little things their children will encounter.

    Thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wilcox Carol

    May 13, 2016 at 3:58 am

    So, so, so scary. About three years ago, we had a summer where it felt like the whole state was on fire. Each Sunday, I would drive the seventy miles from my house to my mother’s and weep over the blackened hillside. I am so sad for those poor deer, they must have been so scared. And even sadder for the people of Fort McMurray, coming home to devastation. Your poem captures the power of fire perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. katswhiskers

    May 13, 2016 at 4:14 am

    That is a stunning photo to inspire a raging poem, Violet. So many poetic devices demonstrated with ease and power. You drag the reader along with you. So very sad to hear of the situation at Fort McMurray. Fire is a fearsome beast.

    Thank-you for hosting, and sharing your beautiful words with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Mandy Robek

    May 13, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Thank you for hosting this week and sharing your photo. I”ve never experienced forest fires and can’t image the emotions that go along with that. Your words bring those closer emotions closer to the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    May 13, 2016 at 5:28 am

    A frightening yet beautiful poem, Violet! Thank you for sharing, and for hosting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Penny Parker Klostermann

    May 13, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Fire takes what it wants and your poem captures that in a powerful way, Violet. Thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Tabatha

    May 13, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Thank you for sharing this fiery usurper with us today, Violet. So disturbing and scary. My husband read “Under a Flaming Sky” recently and he found it riveting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tabatha

      May 13, 2016 at 6:28 am

      Thanks for hosting! I was so absorbed by the poetic images of fire that I forgot!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. svardell

    May 13, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for hosting and for sharing your poem and that incredible photo about this terrible disaster. My post today is part of a blog tour highlighting YOU CAN FLY by the amazing Carole Boston Weatherford.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

    May 13, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Thank you for hosting. And for making such a lovely poem out of terrible disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Holly Thompson

    May 13, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Thank you for hosting and sharing such a moving poem and calling attention to the Fort McMurray area wildfires. My post today is about a quieter topic–a poem about some tempting and taunting loquats–because late spring is loquat season in Japan!


  25. cvarsalona

    May 13, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Violet, the image you used as a prompt has such a smoldering image which you beautifully illustrated in your poem. Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday and for your offerings to my Spring’s Seeds Gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Bridget Magee

    May 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Holy Wow, Violet…your poem, that picture, the entire town of Fort McMurray. The way you take the stages of development personified by the fire’s growth is powerful.
    Thanks for hosting on this fiery Friday (apropos here in Tucson as we will get to be +100 degrees today – ugh).

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ramona

    May 13, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    What a dramatic picture to prompt your poem – these words, “loaded with papers, photos, pets
    traffic-jam creeping from his pounce,” capture what it must feel like to be fleeing ahead of the beast. Thanks for hosting, Violet.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Donna Smith

    May 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Sorry I’m late! But I wanted to say how power-packed your poem is! Amazing!



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