Spring 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 2 Poetry |

The Pyromaniac

A one-story is disheartening, Brief unelaborated light building Under eaves, traveling sideways, gulping air, And the slow smoke bellying after. Three stories, four, five, or more work best For my hushed start, in which the rest Becomes a climbing fall toward light, The blue flame's leap to furnace white And stoked accumulation where Hunger lives on hunger, hollowing air As the dicing flames still time, As empty coats, arms bent in pantomime, Go up, as my two shoes tip up, their toes Curled the way I make whole buildings go— Out of the rich gas and fire's brief bright Dancing its combustible light On top of light, as if it drew The nail-board-mortar of all lives into One hot cumulus billowing from below.   That's why I strike the match, that I may know No god's revenge for fire, but my own, My own curled side bent to a stone As obdurate and blank as hate, Although not for some dark bird's appetite, I have my own of that, instead the flame, Consuming eve

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Wyatt Prunty’s latest poetry collection is Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise. He lives in Sewanee, where he is the Ogden D. Carlton Professor in Sewanee’s English Department. He directs the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Tennessee Fellowship Series. He edits the Johns Hopkins Poetry and Fiction Series.

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