The Suicide Poets
bundle themselves up in reams
of their own poetry,
show up in a public place
(a bar, a restaurant, a church)
and set themselves on fire -
or try to. Sometimes the poems
are so gassy, they flare green
or purple briefly, then FZZZZT!
Sometimes they are damp,
mold-spotted things, and will not
ignite. Sometimes their inner moistness
allows them to flicker, then ember,
producing little flame, mainly
sooty clouds, through which we may hear
the poet choking on his words.
Ah, but some are so dry,
they spontaneously combust
( the poet being matchless),
long, writhing tongues of flame
reaching the farthest corners
of the room, scorching helpless listeners,
incinerating those too close to the poetry,
sometimes setting innocent children afire -
how sad to see our children,
who should be consuming,
consumed, surviving, but continuing
(even at home, alone in their rooms)
to burn, their eyes dark with charring.
Why do the suicide poets do this?
Some say they've been promised immortality;
others, that they hate this place
and want to take it with them, include it
in their personal holocaust; others,
that it is the only way they can make themselves
heard (whispering and crackling)
above the cool hum of silence.
I saw one smiling as he burned.
I think he did it because he wanted to burn,
wanted his poetry to cast a fine flame,
thought his paper good kindling,
his body an excellent log to prolong the fire,
knew fire couldn't harm what we are,
wanted us to know.