[35] Fire Boat, Richard Schiffman


Circling like a jackal,
lipstick red and scrappy
as a fighting bantam,
or a mad wasp hurtling
from the nest, water cannons
firing on a practice run
pump their punishing streams
at a long burned out wharf
whose mangled rafters
poise like swords of Damocles
above the steel-gray river.
It’s what we do—
pummel the past
for its rehashed sins
sending girders swinging,
crossbars clanging to the drink.
Then off the shamefaced fireboat slinks
from the newly weeping beams
whose sole ambition
was to rust in peace.

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