Words on Fire Special Edition: The Best of the Magnificent Seven 2014

We Didn't Start the Fire

Here are the Best Poems from the Words on Fire moderators — Michael David Saunders Hall, RC deWinter, Uma Venkatraman, Chris Flegel, Mary Macharia, Arthur Turfa, and Frederick Andrew — as chosen by the moderators themselves for 2014.


birthday surprise

february morning
sliding door
antiseptic wafting down the corridor
greenshirted blurs
cold tile floor
stainless steel table down the corridor
fluorescent lights
tubes galore
whitecoats standing on the cold tile floor
console lights flash
convulsive roar
then a small vault another cold tile floor
sheeted stainless steel table
nothing more
only silence screams behind a closed wood door

–RC deWinter


Anathema Knight

Sing to me your Siren song
though it be minor key
let it weave it’s tendrils
through the fabric of my heart

the broken wing the furrowed brow
the tear upon the cheek
accentuate mere beauty’s
pull and put in sharp relief

exquisite agony which
summons, nay, demands
an offer – gentle word
or sweet caress in silence

draw comfort from the singing
and the sharing of the pain
there’s beauty in the caring
through the darkness yet again

in my soul I am a Knight
heeding the tortured cry
though tarnished is my armor
and uneven is my gait

soon, as ever in the past
the knightly caring will
turn into clinging pestilence
warmth quickly becomes chill

the tarnish will grow deeper
armor’s metal brittler still
and I will lumber on my way
anathema again

–Frederick M. Andrew


The Telos of Time

If all time is indeed
Eternally present, somehow
Past and present coexisting
With future that has been
Will have been
And contained in every moment
That was, is, or will be,
How is any moment discerned?

Am I soaking my sneakers
In morning’s dew
In early coolness
With the sunrise over the hill
And sitting in the den
Composing these lines
As darkness shrouds the tall pines
Or as I do whatever it shall be
In the years granted
Wherever, however I will spend them?

Blissfully unaware of the connection
We remain
Separating them by tenses and times
Compelling time into a flowing stream
Into whose waters we step only once
At any given time.

Every so often, some of us
Glance at distant stars
Whose fleeting constellations
Show connections we perhaps
Suspected and set our course anew

At the axis mundi
Where the veil between
Eternity and time
Is somewhat lifted,
We experience the
Moment above time,
The transcendent moment
Where Creator and creature
Redeemer and redeemed,
Sanctifier and sanctified
From all places and times,
Host holding a host
Shatter time as it is measured
Transitioning into timelessness.

Through action long ago
Continuing, never repeated,
We stand on the verge
Of was-is-will be and
Never-changing now
Ever onward-rushing
To consummation.

–Arthur Turfa


Jazz: Rhapsody in You, Pt. 18, the finale — Autumn Leaves (& impossible dreams)
[inspired by Emily Dickinson, James Baldwin & Public Enemy]

“The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living.”
–Russian Proverb

dwell in
the realm of
inhaling dreams that my heart sings–
sweet airs of prayers
pulling back
the net

spring sunbeams that bathe
in a stream burgundy like wine
after indian summer, reverb whispered wails

that sing,
sing, sing! though
muted by h i s t o r y

since freedom
liberating words
chosen by our silences,
because “freedom of speech is freedom or death.” & if

let it be
by the sword of our
own tongues. this is our time to shine
like sons & daughters of the light, rather than hide or
wane beneath a veil of silence

Like autumn leaves…

“the impossible
is the least”
we can



[Please check out the recording on Soundcloud.]

xxii. Cusp of Cryptic

“If my mouth is moving
or pen out of the quill,
‘tis likely I dissemble.”

“Write a happy villanelle” requires:
bouncy lines forever malleable
in variegate shades of distant fires.

A ticking of a tock or new transpires
tapping of a timpani of trouble,
writes a happy villanelle, requires

objects fuzzy in the lens or lyres
if my lips are moving, quiet burble
in variegate shades of distant fires.

Musical droplets dampen the pyres
of pens out of a quill, coy, dissemble,
write a happy villanelle. Re: Choirs

of angels dance in the rain. The flyers
take a sultry dip, in octaves tremble
in variegate shades of distant fires.

& so the dance, the rain, the sound retires,
& blown to the east, would reassemble,
write a happy villanelle, requires
a variegate shade of distant fires.

–Chris Flegel


Be With Me

Come sit by me
Don’t be put off
by the hungry longing
you spy in my eyes
I won’t devour you
with my body
What I desire is the
meeting of minds

I crave the pleasure
of long conversations
meandering through
unknown paths
stumbling upon
surprising revelations
immersing myself
in your words
losing myself
in your silences

Let us bare not flesh
but our hearts
For now, it will suffice
If it should ignite the spark
we pretend to not notice,
Well, then let’s
burst into flames

–Uma Venkatraman


lips dissolve
silence. can you hear my throaty ripples?
I’m an asphyxiated siren caught
in your inner
demon’s net.
when you
my tight,
center, the silk
(barely there) barricade disintegrates;
blood morphs into a mercurial blaze.
your sinuous
stalk suggests
you just
me out
of the heart
of disorder,
into a retreat for the guiltless mind.

–Mary Macharia


©2015 Words on Fire: Imagineers of Pyrotechnic Poetics.


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