It’s almost winter and the wildfire is
moving on to another town.  Tonight rain
is falling on the ashes of Paradise.

Women and children approach with hands
empty except for their hunger for safety,
razor wire and tear gas barring them from Paradise.

A bird of prey hovers over the burnt planet.
Cars lie tipped on their sides, abandoned,
rusting along the road to Paradise.

The ruler installed by oligarchs orders
soldiers to fire on the asylum-seekers.
Men shout in the streets, demanding Paradise.

It’s a dream that grew out of the desert.
A parched hand on the saddle’s pommel
remembered touching the fruit of Paradise.

Refugees warm themselves at a scavenged
wood fire. At such gatherings there is always
a scruffy person with a guitar singing of Paradise.

A woman holds her lit candle at the curb-
side vigil.  Another joins her, then another —
together they are rebuilding Paradise.

Thomas R. Smith.JPG

Thomas R. Smith is a poet, editor and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin.  His most recent poetry collection is Windy Day at Kabekona: New and Selected Prose Poems (White Pine).  He recently edited Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer (Graywolf).  He teaches at the Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis.