Wildfires & Other Catastrophes

In the meantime, I’ll tell you about words & their meaning.
How my father screamed at me/to the world.
How I blistered/was I wrong?
“This is America, not Poland.”

Don’t confuse fire with other devastation.

Look for definition. Fire: Carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen, combustion.
Zyklon B: Main component cyanide. Not fire. Words: This is not a test.

What words can’t you forget?

Bolting yourself in a bathroom stall while girls hurled stupid, Jew, vultured
above from adjacent white toilets.

Liable for your own cancer, rogue cells as some god’s refusal to forgive.

You are match, kindling, the reason you couldn’t save family or friends.

The man in charge says: Fire’s our fault, spits out blame like toothless drops of water.





Amy Small-McKinney’s poems have been published in numerous journals, including Connotation Press, Construction, Indianapolis Review, and Anomaly. Her poem “Birthplace” received Special Merits recognition by The Comstock Review for their 2019 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest. Her newest manuscript, Unpracticed Bodies Come Apart, was a finalist with Trio House Press and Barrow Street Press. Her second full-length book of poems, Walking Toward Cranes, won the 2016 Kithara Book Prize (Glass Lyre Press). Her poems have been translated into Romanian and Korean. She resides in Philadelphia where she teaches community poetry workshops and private students.

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