Fighting fires


Walter Bell, fights fires

and is fighting one down the street.

A cameraman stands out front.

A few neighbors, in what will be

their only TV appearance,

say an old couple just bought it

and were fixing it up.


Behind them, stop-action in flashing light,

Walter and the other men

fight fire, spray water, and rake

the smoke from cinders.


Down the sidewalk, I mill around with others,

wondering about lives lived there,

about who lived in our houses

and where their memories have gone.


I remember it is spring, time again

to clean generations out of the corners.

But you never get it. You never get all

the flakes of skin, old food,

all the wool turned to moth dust.


The only time it all goes is when it burns,

winds up in the wind or smeared on the face

of a guy you went to high school with.

Published by

Patrick Dobson

Patrick Dobson was founded in 1962. He is a writer, scholar, ironworker, and poet who lives in Kansas City, MO. He is author of two books with the University of Nebraska Press, Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (2009) and Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer (May 2015). Dobson is a work in progress until termination.

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