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Black Powder, Paradise

I consider it ...
with indifference, at first ...
the black charcoal powder coating the sole of my boot ...
I slap at it casually and watch it drift off, spinning ...

Then it hits me ... my breath, gone ...
that drifting ash and soot -
the seemingly meaningless particles of 'nothing',
were once ... everything ...

Houses and cars and conveniences,
photos and keepsakes, necessities and documents,
lawns and trees and foodstuffs, clothes and keepsakes,
the million things unnamed that fill treasured places ...

The silly things that represent daily life and occurrence,
endless items of the mundane and commonplace,
made priceless for the memories and joys they represent,
And people ... actual people ...

Charred remains of the inestimable hearts that once thrummed here -
the embers of human beings, cherished ... irreplaceable,
that loved and argued and hoped and pondered,
Now tossed on the breeze like so much dust ...

The soot and cinders of souls,
caught in my lungs and eyes ...
remnants of Paradise ... turned to fiery, flaming hell ...
A mocking dance of black powder and ash ...

Homes and dreams and precious, precious lives,
carried to senseless, blazing oblivion
by the callous, breathy winds ...
of Santa Ana.

Written and submitted on November 14, 2018
For the "Black Powder" Poetry Contest
Anthony Slausen, Judge & Sponsor.

Copyright © Gregory R Barden | Year Posted 2018


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  1. Date: 11/15/2018 7:48:00 PM

    OMG this is a wowser. if I do not see it on top of the winner list, there will be an injustice!! Absolutely fantastic writing on a current tragedy.
  1. Date: 11/15/2018 4:37:00 PM

    This is an excellent tribute to those poor souls whose lives were destroyed by flames! It tells of the heartache of loss of life and of properties that cannot be replaced. I feel for them and pray for all of those involved in fighting the flames as well as those who have lost everything. I hope this poem gets rewarded well Greg. : ) xxoo
  1. Date: 11/15/2018 7:03:00 AM

    Wow Greg. I read this as an apocalyptic piece, and the realisation of what it was about hit with a jolt. Very skillfully done.