Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fire – A Tale of Greed

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I have started a writing course in the hope that I can improve the content on these pages. The course covers both Prose and Poetry and having written several pieces of prose which other students on the course kindly said they enjoyed, I thought I would ask the readers of ‘Poet at Jaybern’ what they think of it.

I know it is not Poetry, but it fits with my aim of finding things I might like doing as I reinvent myself.

I would be very interested in what you think about my prose so please leave constructive criticism if you can. If you think it appropriate please don’t hesitate to say; ‘stick to the poems’;-)

I won’t cry too much ;-)

Fire – A Tale of Greed

Rudyard Kipling; ‘Jungle Saying’ from; ‘The King's Ankus - The Second Jungle Book’.

“These are the four that are never content, that have never been filled since the dews began; Jacala's mouth, and the glut of the Kite, and the hands of the Ape, and the eyes of Man.”

*****

We met first on the plains of Africa when lightning struck an acacia tree. In those days Africa was not known as Africa, lightning was Mother Nature’s anger and the Acacia? Well, things didn’t have names back then. The burning tree set the grassland alight and the wind carried me ahead of it. The creatures of the plains ran from me, where I caught them they perished. All the creatures on the plain knew to run from my twisting orange and red tendrils, as soon as they smelt the scent of my smoke they would stop what they were doing and run with the wind. I said all the creatures; but that’s not so, the short haired ape, just down from the trees was different for he was intrigued and was always first to return and he would play in my ashes, chasing and dancing with my flying sparks.

Yes man was different, he had greed akin to the Jackals mouth and from those early days he always wanted more. His instinct told him that if he could harness my power he would become master of all. He learnt to breathe life into my sparks and coax flickering flame from the wood and grass he gathered but this was not enough for him. He wanted me at his beck and call, and waiting for a lightning strike was not good enough. He learnt to carry me, using coals wrapped in tree bark and grasses and from that day on the night plains were lit up by spots of orange light and mankind and I learnt to dance together in the dark.

The rains arrived and man once again was alone in the dark. Then I was born anew, but this time it felt different. I had not been summoned from the heavens; some ‘strange’ spark had ignited me. Man had learnt that striking a stone or spinning a stick would create the spark or embers from which he could coax my flame. Henceforth we have seldom been separated.

The apes had long since mastered using tools. They would use sticks to fish for termites deep within a rotting log or like the birds make nests high up in the trees; but as Mankind learnt to use me as a tool I saw pride creeping into their eyes. I gave them light and warmth at night, I kept tooth and claw away from their door and they used me to heat food, which allowed them to eat things they’d been unable to eat before. Oh, mankind became proud and for the first time since the creator had set the great fire in the heavens, someone thought they owned me and that I had been tamed; they were wrong!

John Carré Buchanan
15 October 2012

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

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