By Peter Swanson


Please take away the stench of Scotch,
The horror of champagne, the idle chat,
The skyline in its Technicolor dusk.
Take me back to when I didn’t do it,

To when I didn’t know how surprised
A man looks when, with certainty,
He knows he is about to die,
And does not understand the reason why.

The fire had spread like a lunatic’s rave:
Instantly touching everything on its mind.
Two brick and timber factories had caved;

Their doors and windows, charcoal-lined,
Belched plumes of inky smoke and steam.
The gathering crowd watched those assigned,

The firemen with their silvery streams,
Their science-fiction trucks; they occupied
The chaos, soldiers amassed against bad dreams.