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Tuesday, August 07, 2018


by Ron Riekki

Source: CAL FIRE

for Zachary Schomburg and Nick Flynn

“Where the hell is global warming?” —DJT

“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire” —DJ Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three

I used to sit on the shore and watch the waves,
but now the shore is closed and the heat waves

and I’m seeing death in the woods and feeling
death in the air and hearing death on the radio

and knowing death is lurking next to Death so
that there are two deaths everywhere that I look

at all times and the death is the death of booths,
the death of voting booths, the death of all

of the animals near the voting booths and in
the voting booths, except there are no voting

booths anymore, just the rigor mortis of these
electoral colleges that are universities with no

freedom of speech unless you count death
speech, the threats to countries, when we don’t

want to concentrate on the fires, on the air
outside of my apartment right now with its 154

red listing of unhealthy and main pollutant:
atmospheric particulate matter, which really

means death but we can’t say death when we
mean death, and what I mean is the newspapers

are having the headlines of California Ablaze
except that we’re told all media is fake that

death is fake, although here we’ve had more deaths
from forest fires in the last year than in the last

decade combined and we are becoming the last,
with the death taste in my mouth—can you

taste it?—The cereal I had this morning was death
brand.  And the milk was death.  And the bowl

was made out of death and I ran after my death-
bus but missed it so I walked through the forest,

a shortcut, except the deer were on fire and my
head was filled with the particles of death

because death is made up of the little things,
the smallest moments of ignorance, the tiniest

bits of hate, until they pile up and I just read
the graffiti near my apartment: CALIFIRENIA

with dotted capitalized Is in cartoonish flames
and 1.4 million acres is burning in thirteen

states with the third-degree burns of the earth’s
crust, the earth’s nerve endings being destroyed,

its skin swelling, the way these wounds tend to heal
poorly, and the heat is a death and the death is a heat

and this is not theater but rather our lives, my life, your

Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and Undocumented (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).