Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Fire Next Time - Three Waldo Canyon Poems

It's the Fourth of July.  The fires have been 80 percent contained.  There was a soaking, almost punishing rain last night that overwhelmed the pitiful dry showers of the week previous, with a promise of more rains in the days ahead.  The beast is behind us.

I realized that there is a physical, if not psychological, price to be paid for days of adrenaline fight-or-flight reactions, of using sheer terror as your accompanying soundtrack.  I've been physically sick for 48 hours with something that is not viral or depression-based, but a malady that might be called post-fire ennui.

The local landscape is much more physically sick, of course, though it's surprising how much green is still in view.  June 26 was not just a breakout day, it was an epic firestorm in an urban area, unprecedented in the state of Colorado, at any rate.  The deep scars at the saddle of Queens Canyon and the ridge at Blodgett's Peak won't be showing healthy signs of new growth until the years when my life on this planet will end, assuming no early exit.  Then again, I won't be seeing too many new-shoot results near Deckers from regrowth after the 2002 Mt. Herman fire.  So it goes.

It's forgivable, I suppose, that the three poems below all demonstrate apocalypse in their own way, but I'm so through with End Times right about now.  The indirect use in the third poem of the collapse-and-hope quote of US Forest Service official Jerri Marr (pictured above) is intended, not only to indicate that hope never dies in the scariest of armageddons, but something more lasting as well.  There is beauty in living through collapse, honor in documenting the decades after Rome was sacked, after the Black Death decimated Europe, after the damage stemming from the multitude of climate-change localized atrocities have moved through your town.  We might as well get used to such a concept, because we get no vote about living in an era when the F. Scott Fitzgerald parties are long gone.  If Amy Hubbard's column in the Los Angeles Times is correct, all forest fires might be super-fires from now on.  Or as Denver economist Sanjay Ramchander said last fall, "Maybe volatility is the new normal." No sense being a Debbie Downer, this is the hand that is dealt.  Rejoice this Fourth of July.  But put away those sparklers, damn it!

Lot's Wife
(for the northeast perimeter of Waldo Canyon)

Buy into the latest Essene fables
where fire is to guide
and salt is to condemn,
while nonetheless realizing
destiny turns all mumbly-tumbly
in such an intolerant heat.
Enough to submerge Duluth,
enough to microburst Tampa’s Sunshine Skyway,
while surrounding Santa’s Workshop
with the abject terror of explosive pine cones.

The pillar shimmers orange 24/7
a shade midway between caution and halt
but beckoning even so,
whispering in your ear
that the inconvenient truth
is the orgasm of perpetual wildfire
of beachfront property in Wainwright Alaska
of all that is
west of 30th Street
and the Flying W Ranch.

The garden variety CPA will not buy into
the insistent clarion from heaven,
but will tabulate,
3,446 acres, 5 percent contained.
as Julianza throws in higher-order divisors from Utah,
79 into 1,063
which of course gives a prime factor
of the number of people at Utah Lake Shooting Range
the day the Dump Fire is contained,
the day Bluffdale beckons,
the day Waldo Canyon finds its itinerant pillar,
drowning out D.A. Pennebacker shouting
Renounce all sin and vice.

Loring Wirbel
June 25, 2012 (5 percent contained)
Copyright 2012 Loring Wirbel

Blodgett or Bowie: A Triage Conundrum
There are few modern guides to etiquette that include chapters on effective disclosure to evacuated guests that their home may be cinders.  Geomap interactive web sites and dynamic city-county best-practice apps don’t provide direct addresses of devastation, so one is left with police scanners, a lonely and frightened cry of “Fall back to the Woodmen perimeter, we can’t defend Blodgett!”, and the certainty that the Blodgett Loop is a mobius of fire-starter, the little running fire demon collapsing into itself until Giganta the Fire Monster crests Blodgett Peak as all is certainly lost.  Time for the single-malt scotch and the gentle hand on a wrist, the throat catching in smoke inhalation or compassion at the phrase “About that garage…”

Except that our Incident Coordinator tells us there is a Stanley Trail involved in the mystery, a radio repeater and a Tesla Hydro Facility no one knew was there, invoking images of Bowie as Tesla in The Prestige, Sammie Joe Kinnett in the eponymous Tesla, both hoping to foil the evil Edison before he murders more animal innocents through high-voltage torture.  The failure to suppress may well be one of triage between the hydroelectric plant and the radio repeater, realized solely on the basis of whether direct or alternating current would be employed, just as Tesla would have wanted it.  A home saved?  Perhaps, or maybe just an independent currency in a year all euros fell victim to fire damage.

While just down the road, Mt. St. Francis nuns of sound mind and body are missing in action, the feebler residents of the nursing home sent to the double-digit floors of local hospitals, and the chickens sent to alleys behind the Rio Grande police substation.  Our wayward fowl become new evacuated neighbors of a peace-in-space activist on the very day that Air Force Space Command sends its Vandenberg hot-shot crew for Giganta suppression.  It is in just such alleys where a rooster crows every morning through the duration of the fire, reminding everyone that in the choice between AC and DC, there are always sacrifices to be made.

Loring Wirbel
June 27, 2012 (Day 5 of Waldo Canyon)
Copyright 2012 Loring Wirbel


I’ll be the first to admit
there’s no evident screaming Aryan
immolating illegals in the borderlands,
only the desecration of shrines in a Timbuktu far from public view.

I’ll be the first to admit
there are few hints of million-percent hyperinflation,
not even the banging pots of Buenos Aires,
only the exhaustion of purchasing power
that leaves the wrinkle in Angela’s face,
the tea-leaf reading that says
nothing ever works nothing ever will.

Still, the clearing sky leaves a Brechtian vapor trail.
Babette held her cabaret Saturday as the flames were tamped,
long black sequined dress, pearl-tipped cigarette holder,
as we tiptoed our way through Bauhaus ashes
expecting Marlene to emerge from Majestic Drive
covertly displaying black-market silk stockings,
the kind men like.

Hold fast the Marr Hypothesis at all times in this incessant heat:
Even in collapse there is hope.

I slowly circumnavigated the Blodgett Loop this afternoon,
Mistaking the open-space char scar for Dietrich runny mascara.
The first Weimar
ended in the Swiffer expunging all that was not Nordic blonde.
The second Weimar
was the grain of sand,
dropped into a cascade that collapsed its anthill long ago.
Few tasks remain aside from documenting the flash shadows
of the dozens of subtler Hiroshimas to come.

Loring Wirbel
July 2, 2012
Copyright 2012 Loring Wirbel



janet colorado said...

thanks for inspire me to work on my ramblings. :) xoxo

janet colorado said...

thanks for posting! you inspire me to update my own blog ramblings. xoxox

janet colorado said...

thanks for posting!

Loring Wirbel said...

I am soooo bad about updating my blog. Once upon a time it was better. Now I feel like it's a poor lil' abandoned puppy. The blog feels so much better when there are visitors!