The Truth about Fire

after Alberto Ríos

You’ve heard the story about the sky––
how fire burned it black
and kept a little piece of blue.
If only the story were that simple:
a fire growing into its power,
and then the poor sky consumed
by all those flames.

You didn’t hear the part about the sky
borrowing the wind to spark
a flare to warm the air around it.
We forget how cold it is
high above the clouds.
The sky sent down a kiss
of a breeze, which was all fire
needed to taste heaven
on its tongue and prove
to the world that this
was no regular flame.

The sky flailed its arms
whipping up gusts and gales
to blow like brass,
calling on rain clouds
to beat down like kettle drums––
a frenzied conductor
of an out-of-practice orchestra.
But nobody could stop
the fire this time, least of all
a sky trying to control
a force of nature.

I wanted to tell you
this side of the story
so you wouldn’t think
all fires are bad and the sky
is clear and pure all the time.
The truth is fire will be fire,
but sometimes the sky wants
to bask in the flames and must decide
whether to risk being wrong

This is why the birds can’t trust it.

Click here to listen to Pamela L. Taylor reading "The Truth about Fire"

Pamela L. Taylor is a data guru by day and a poet by night. She has a doctorate in Social Psychology from UCLA, an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a Cave Canem Fellow. When she is not working or writing, she’s dancing Argentinean tango in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Her blog,, is geared towards poets with non-literary careers.

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