Friday, January 13, 2012



It’s easy to say
lick me as deeply as these flames cling
to what they devour
crawl on fire across the dry
husks of tenderness, rustle and spark
in my bed of shed skins
and watch me be consumed

but this is a country of cold
of ashes, where the green moon
looks down with basilisk eyes
to this polar waste where
nothing can burn

except the heart
skewered for the auto da fe,
up in vanity’s smoke
crackling and spitting its fat
into the roasting flames,
built to fuel a heat that mocks
the end of fire.

So bring your napalm skin
let me be the burning ballroom
where the salamanders dance
and I'll give you spark for spark
flame for flame
before the cold dawn
blows us out.

January 2012

Process notes: In medieval and occult lore, the salamander was thought to belong to, if not actually be, the element of fire. From wikipedia:"Leonardo da Vinci wrote the following on the salamander: 'This has no digestive organs, and gets no food but from the fire, in which it constantly renews its scaly skin...'  Later, Paracelsus suggested that the salamander was the elemental of fire..."

Footer Image: Pinup Model: Erika the Texas Timebomb(in 55 Thunderbird), by, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Non-Commercial License 


  1. You old romantic, you. You've done a fine job of weaving the salamander throughout this piece. I had no idea of the fiery associations before I read them in your footnote. I also like that you slipped in a little note from the Inquisition as well. Love is never moon-june-croon with you...more like fire and funeral pyre.

    1. whoosh! "fuel a heat that mocks the end of fire"
      that's some kinda heat.

  2. I especially like the second stanza.......but the entire work is - totally amazing. Whew.

    1. smoking hedge...the first 3 lines are hot...second stanza alone could be some wicked social commentary...and really like that close as well....burn down the house....

  3. This is bookmark-worthy, one of my favourites of your poems so far. I always like to think that a successful poem is one good, long, extended metaphor - and that's what you've accomplished here.

  4. This poem taps into our deepest needs for passionate intensity, the warmth of blood fired up by another's body, and juxtaposed with the coldness of a wintery setting, and the frigid fear of being alone.
    Brilliantly conceived.

  5. Ah, that we might consume ourselves and regenerate our hearts and rise as phoenix.


  6. Love the images your words create. The second stanza especially is enthralling!

    1. Thanks, Sheila, always good to see you stop by.

  7. Amen sistah -- you've got the napalm groove down pat ... as I mentioned at MZs Waits post, there is a form of Eros the Romans called Amor, whose downward-burning torch means wings folded, sweet oblivion of the other approaching rapidly below ... there's a Tarot card for The Lovers, but this isn't that card, for in that one the pair are joined by Eros (and the woman looks upon love looking up into the sky, and the man looks on love looking at the woman's body) -- the Devil is the more appropriate card here, lovers chained to each other with His Salamander-ness fanning the flames from behind. Passion here gluts and then blows itself out ... Fine job. - Brendan

    1. Yes, devil fire, so deceptive, and so much more consuming than warming. Still, when you're cold, even a little brimstone draws you towards it.

  8. Joy, I enjoyed learning about the meaning of the salamander. And your poem was masterful. We all have to dance while we can before the "cold dawn blows us out."

  9. Thanks everyone, TUG, Kerry, all ye toads--I like this new blogger reply thing, but replying to every post makes the comment section ungodly huge, so I'll just say thanks for reading here like I usually do, and your time and thoughts are always appreciated.

  10. You've plaited the notions of sensuality, mythical property and humanity into a piece that vies Tom's for winner of gritty heat. Flows amazingly well. Complex, yet oh-so simple. Brava!

  11. I was loving the way you wove the mythical salamander through this piece even before your note. And, weirdly, I thought (because of the cold references?) of the Russian tea device, also a salamander.
    "...a heat that mocks the end of fire." Such is love, isn't it?
    Wonderful wonderful stuff. (Enjoying Mr. Waits, too. Thanks.)

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    Like Cartman says for obvious reasons.

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"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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