All night the beggar queen dreams
on her throne of words, striking
match head after match head to flush

the dawn sky salmon. I watched it
change color that way only once, sleeping
on a beach in a borrowed blanket.

Sandpipers and gulls left imprints
on wet sand. Above, birds flew
ahead of a curtain of coming rain.

The air smelled of sulphur,
of phosphorus, of gunpowder—
residue of some resplendent

catastrophe, as if a column of fire
or a city were burning somewhere;
as if a fire-stealer were returning

to the world red-handed. Glowing baton
in each hand, mouth full of knowledge:
heart an ember oblivious to danger.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Private: ApologyVespertine →

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

4 Replies to “Fire-stealer”

  1. Glowing baton/ in each hand, mouth full of knowledge:/ heart an ember oblivious to danger.


    It is a fiery birthing: after the lonely call
    of the last gull that darts after the last
    glow of sundown; after the sandpiper’s
    song peters out to a lost bird’s chirp;
    after all the images have crept under
    these breakwater boulders to surface
    perhaps as frenzied dancers casting
    shadows swaying underneath this tent,
    this caravanserai of dreams; after this,
    on a throne of palaver, a fire-bearer
    lights the torches that fence us all in.

    Like Apollo’s captives, we cup flames
    in our palms and sing polyglot hymns
    to the beauty of words while we shower
    our paths with pellets of fire, as we crown
    the beggar queen with a flaming nosegay.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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