Winning Poem: The Vocabulary of Heat

I am pleased to share my 1st Place poem from the Forces of Nature art and poetry exhibit. Many thanks to the judges and to the Windsor Art & Heritage Center!

You may view the free exhibit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm, through January 9th. For more information check out The Art & Heritage Center online.

The Vocabulary of Heat
 By Amy Wray Irish

I thought I knew pyrotechnics.
Forbidden sparks catching in a state
built of kindling. Fire so wild
we destroy even more
to contain the contagion.
Inhaling smoke and cinders.
And long-term water shortages
drying all the way down the aquifer
to our heat-stroked cells.

But now extremes crack open the dictionary
to words too hot to handle.
Like pyrocumulonimbus,
when a firestorm cloud is formed
by thermals rising from fire.
120 degrees flown in on a jet stream
so the power cables melt
and the roads buckle
and the flesh of the trees ignites.

Or like the anticyclone that forms,
the sky a whirling dervish dome
that traps hot air, intensified
to the point of lightning.

I know we are headed for megadrought,
for the funerals of failed grids
that die trying to keep us alive.
I can stretch to grasp the feedback loop
such heat creates, the greenhouse
within a greenhouse effect.

But then I learn of the cryoseism,
sounding deceptively frozen.
In Alaska, glaciers melt so fast
they are seismic events, ice shearing
and falling to the tune of a 2.7 magnitude
on a single day.

With such words to learn, my mouth
goes dry, starts to smolder. 
I struggle with language smoking
like ash and cinder,
unable to choke it down.
But I shouldn’t be forced
to swallow such extremes—
now is the time to spit
them out, fight the fire
with every fiber,
before the whole world burns.

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