OnPoEvMo: A Quick Burst of Fire, July 2007

I was reading through an article about the anniversary (no celebration) of the Hindenburg Tragedy and wrote this poem. The line from the article that stuck out with me was the refrain running through the poem: Those who stayed, survived. Those who jumped, died.

This is part of my OnPoEvMo Project, an ongoing personal saga of writing, podcasting and publishing poems through the course of the year.


A Quick Burst of Fire

(considering the Hindenburg tragedy)
July 2007

Listen to the poem

Those who stayed, survived;
Those who jumped, died;

and isn’t it simply tragic that these are the facts that remain with us
seventy years after the giant envelope caught fire
in the skies above Jersey
while families and friends and reporters waited for the miracle,
only to be shown a tragedy in full view, unfolding frame by terrifying frame
above their heads.

Those who stayed, survived.
And yet to stay put with an inferno raging around you
and with fellow passengers descending like bullets towards the ground below —
that must have been like madness in and of itself,
a choice between some distant layers of Dante’s own Hell.

Those who jumped, died.
And yet how could you remain, stationary and collected,
with the heat curling up against your skin
and the smell of panic in your brain
and not take action to live.

Of course, I would jump.
Wouldn’t you?

But when the time came, I didn’t jump.
I stayed
and I survived,
standing so agonizingly close to the flames
— even today, I am always at the edge of this abyss —
that I am the one who still burns with anger at the fire-starter
— the friendly fiend with sulfur on his breath —
and I ignite at my own inability to react to the danger before
it was far too late —
to leap to the ground through the quick burst of fire
and be rid of this scar tissue forever.

Peace (on the ground),

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