My Personal Favorite: Michael Lauchlan


Michael Lauchlan

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite and why?



My neighbor is burning things

and sitting close enough to be warmed

by a shock of color that tears

the longest night in what

we’ll recall as the year it all

came apart. Even our verbs

are ashen. The fire’s turning

and turning as she feeds it

old boxes and branches snapped

in the last wind. She might be thinking

of the moody guy who sits on her porch

and stares at his phone. She might

hope that next month or next

year she’ll get by on two jobs

instead of three. I walk the dog

and see my neighbor letting fire

do what it’s always done–

destroy trash, peel bark,

unlock the grain of limbs, and draw

us near as it shimmies and curls

before our eyes. Sparking neurons,

the furnaces in skin cells, even

the long hidden sun–all burn

in tune with backyard havoc.

Picture a lit scrap wafting toward

my garage roof. Weigh the cost

of tools against the thrill–a blaze

recharged by flash fuel–scraps

of lumber, popping gas cans

and wheelbarrow tires–a blaze

charring lawn mowers, shovels, saws

and drills–flames bright enough

to dent our vast darkness.

printed in Cumberland River Review, Issue 7-4


I’m choosing “Pyromaniac” partly because I have been preoccupied with fire lately, expressive of my own rage but also of the unconscionable destruction unfolding around us. Fire is also, of course, elemental and suggestive of matters beyond our control.
Michael Lauchlan
Bio: Michael Lauchlan’s poems have appeared in many publications and have been anthologized in Abandon Automobile(Wayne State University Press, 2001) and A Mind Apart. His earlier collections are And the Business Goes to Pieces and Sudden Parade.