Gone now are their ephemeral green
scales, replaced by a brighter palette
of red and gold and yellow, and mounded
sinuously by a combination of rakes,
my three kids, and some applied direction.

It’s a leaf dragon, I tell them. Akin
to a grass snake, and slain by young
warriors. We need now to ensure
it remains dead—whence this pyre.

Almost as if in pain, at the touch
of a match, the raked monster swirls
and pulses, heaving itself up out
of imbricated stillness, its cloak
of many colors taking on the vibrant
crackle of flame. Soon, in fact,
it’s totally lit, a blazing hydra of orange,
crisp leaf, and spent chlorophyll.
But we are also far from the only ones
to witness its reduction. Denuded
(unlike us, who are wrapped
in our cloaks), the trees stand
like museum armatures of prehistorica,
their upper branches lifting
threadbare wings, soaring
in the same wind that spreads
their shed skin like a flotilla of kites
into an October sky.

Ghosted by the smoke, my children
flap their arms and run about, warming
their chilled blood.

When he first started writing poetry in 2006, Robert Borski wondered if he even had three poems in him. Now some 600 poems later—about 250 of which have been published and in such journals as Asimov’s, Dreams & Nightmares, Strange Horizons, and Star*Line—he wonders if maybe the emphasis should have been on quality, not quantity. Blood Wallah and Other Poems, his sole collection of verse to date, remains available from Dark Regions Press (see the Pedestal review here). He lives in Stevens Point, WI, where he works for the state university system.