I wrote this in fifth grade, after I read Jack London's story "To Build a Fire." It's a poetic rewriting of the story, leaving out the crucial gross part. A couple of years later, when I was in seventh grade, my Mom signed me up for a writer's workshop one Saturday morning down at the Women's Community Center in Ithaca (New York). The other poets were, of course, middle-aged women. We sat in a circle and shared our poems. Some of the women read lesbian love poetry, comparing their lovers to the sea and themselves to the shore. I, a little red-headed twelve-year old, read my "To Build a Fire" poem. The women graciously gave me a standing ovation. I was on my way to becoming a poet!
"To Build a Fire"
Cold and dreary, weak and weary
I roam the frozen North,
To and fro the wind does blow
As slowly I trudge forth.
Day and night, I try to light
A warm and blazing fire:
It goes out, in vain I shout,
And then I start to tire.
It’s eighty below and the freezing snow
Is drifting all around me.
Without a sound, I fall to the ground:
Death has finally found me.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
Here's the poem I wrote and read for the student-organized International Day of Peace gathering in Bridge Square on Wednesday, Septembe...
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...