R. Russell

      Slam poet extraordinaire, and long-time host of CheapAtAnyPrice open mike in Madison, he is also the author of the chapbook Witness. Order it from him at Bruss12008@aol.com.


I'll level with you.
I get tired of it –
the soot all over my shiny new feathers,
the sour taste of my own ashes
that hangs on for days,
and those damn half-memories of another life,
another life, another life, like a dream.
Memories I can never quite touch,
like my own name,
right on the tip of my tongue
but gone before I've grown used to it.
Giving birth to myself over and over
again without dying,
scorching the carpet,
singeing anyone close to me.
I always wonder what else I've lost in those flames
besides feathers and memories.

I must have been a fireman once,
volunteer, I think.
I know I've seen others torn from their homes
as it all burned down around them.
I seem to remember a guy

sitting on a curb, still in shock,
who had carried out nothing but his keys.
Confronted with that quick, awful decision
of what to save, what to leave behind,
everything canceled out
and he just grabbed the closest thing to hand.
It wasn't jewelry or cash.
It was the keys to his house
that had just burned down.

© R. Russell