Portrait of the Artist as a Spark

Keith Flynn Click to

Keith Flynn (www.keithflynn.net) is the author of seven books, including five collections of poetry. His most recent titles include The Golden Ratio (2007), Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, 2013) and a collection of essays entitled The Rhythm Method, Razznatazz and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing (Writer’s Digest Books).  Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review.

Between the gas and the can
my lower leg disappeared
in a blue and orange flame.

Nothing is more articulate than fire.
It moves in slow motion
at the speed of light,

a ragged language, raw and messy,
that leaves a shattered
chugging trail of shadows and debris,

the charred coals of a formerly
living thing. Fire never mutters.
It barks with surprise,

then shrieks, tears apart the precision
of speech, and leaves a soiled scar
of broken sentences.

Impaled on a spit,
clarity returns in a burst.
Thirty-five years ago, what

hung a flaming necktie round
my tender brain, and begged through
the spindle of my body

for some sudden flash of truth?
Fire filled my veins.
Poetry pulled me out by the roots.