Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Images In Fire

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As part of a writing course I am doing at the moment I had to write a poem or prose, it did not matter, from the perspective of another; person, object or creature. I chose to write from the perspective of fire and wrote what I thought was a nice piece of flash fiction.

As I wrote it I realised that the ideas in my head were far too extensive to express in the 1,500 words limit, so I threw a few notes down with the intent of writing a poem when I finished my homework.

The concept was to imagine the relationship between mankind and fire, starting with the first use of ‘found’ fire (the result of a lightning strike), and moving on to the creation of fire. I wanted to finish the piece with mankind looking into the flames and seeing fire telling him what ownership of the secret of fire means.

I hope you enjoy the poem.

Images In Fire

Lightning strikes.
Lines of fire in grass
streak across the plain
driven by the wind;
leaving ashen land.
Gathered coals
lovingly nurtured
are carried carefully.

Gently life’s breath
turns white embers, orange.
Twist of smoke,
flick of flame.
One careless moment,
too much rain?
precious glow dies;
man’s cold again.

While knapping stone
A spark flies,
light dawns.
Spinning stick to bore a hole
He catches the smell….
… of fire’s soul
He takes the leap;
fire is man’s to keep.

For eons
the moon and stars
lit nocturnal skies,
lending pitch black nights
a ghostly silver sheen.
Now flickering orange
pin pricks dance on the plain,
as man sits and tends his flame.

Man knew flames bought
warmth, light and protection.
Now he learnt smoke had uses;
he could drive out game,
calm honey bees,
make food last longer
taste better, oh and it
kept flippin' mozzies away.

Man thought
he’d tamed fire.
His pride was clear to all,
but fire’s wild,
not easily tamed,
man’s in for quite a fall.
Keep watching fire
its flames tell all.

Amidst orange and red petals
dark shadows reveal the future;
forests burnt down
ghostly stumps,
no foot or paw print
on the ground.
The forest’s silent
for miles around

Then armies march
bombs fall on cities,
fire squirted as if water
with one intent – destroy.
Then perhaps worst yet;
while chimneys rain ash
walking skeletons queue nearby
A mushroom fire burns the sky.

Then huge machines
dig great holes
and take the tops off mountains.
Fires so hot they melt rock
and shining metals flows.
Sparks fly
as hammers pound
more machines to dig the ground.

Controlled fire has helped man
probe the universe afar.
One tiny slip and a space ship
becomes a shooting star.
Yet should evil be man’s intent
With fire, even a malcontent,
the greatest architectural feat
can burn and crumble to the street.

As early man watched
the flickering flame
images of the future came
things he could not comprehend
Showed fires part
in our worlds end.
Our sun becomes a red giant
and planet Earth will fall silent.

John Carré Buchanan
October 2012


  1. Critique as per request: It's good – tells a story. Noted one grammatical error (which you no doubt will pick up on if you read through it again). Beyond that, some minor awkwardness at one point due to the need to rhyme (always a problem in rhymed poetry, alas!); otherwise, a good, well-crafted poem. (I assume it was actual, and I hope helpful, feedback you were looking for.

    1. Andy,
      Many thanks for the feedback, very useful. I'm glad you liked the poem. All the best

  2. Nice poem. Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.

  3. great poem John. Hope you're doing ok these days, Liz

    1. Liz, Many thanks for your kind comment. I've been uncomfortable and unable to sleep for several weeksnow, but I am managing to keep my chin up(ish) most of the time. I hope you are doing well. John

    2. Not so good John.....hope things improve for you soon. I'm doing ok

    3. Liz, Glad to hear you are doing ok. Long may that last. John

  4. Loved hearing you read it, you bring it alive. Not only great words, thoughts, but you are a good reader too.

    Write a book? Your life story. Now that would be an interesting read. I'd buy it.

  5. Thanks for the kind comment, I wish you had included your name. Perhaps I should Record the Poem and add a voice file to the post. As for writing a book I'm currently looking to write one called 'Pull up a Sandbag' for Help For Heroes. Hopefully you'll buy that If/when I finish it.

  6. A real nice read. I like when I am able to visualise what you are saying. My favourite paragraphs were a "controlled fire has helped man....etc" and "man thought he'd tamed fire etc..." although it was all very good. Nice Post.

    1. Rum Punch Drunk,
      Many thanks for your kind comment. I particularly appreciate comments from people when they say which parts of my work they enjoyed most.
      All the best


I really appreciate constructive feedback. If you are able to comment it would be most grateful.