Poetry from a Colorado Wildfire. ~ Jenna Penielle Lyons

Via Jenna Penielle Lyons
on Aug 1, 2013
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I wrote this poem from a Forest Service Road (11,000 feet in elevation) near Creed, Colorado while working on the West Fork Complex Fires in early July. I spent time sleeping and drinking coffee on the banks of the Rio Grande and watching plumes of smoke and walls of flame ravage stands of spruce… like Spartan armies. The beauty and power of fire never ceases to amaze me, and as a Hotshot constantly trying to protect people and property from natural disasters, I view the cycles of nature as dynamic systems of power–waxing and waning, ebbing and flowing…constantly in flux, mostly in the  same way people tend to love each other.

Sweet dreams, Colorado.


 Con Sueños, Colorado. 


In the front lines of this noble lineage

of sharp-featured, gilded cliffs,

brash bands of rock whisper in the direction

of the chiseling swirls of knife-edge rhythmic winds

against the undulating spine of a regal horizon.


The grain, motivation, friction, exertion, persuasion

of this Rio Grande—big river,

strong water,

muscular moat,

fluid bachelor—

swindles the posture and demeanor of lacelike banks

into smoothing submission

and eroded, gritty obsession.


Ago-old embroidery of lupine and

mythic horsehair paintbrushes dipped in crimson wounds,

are pigmented crowns atop organic heads and

embedded tediously with nomad pollen jewels—

rising from thrones of ashes, skirts of dust.


And from this rusty, turreted solitude, which belongs to

the rulers of yesterday’s arbor arsenal—

smoke floats on the whispers of trumpets

of vast populations of hushed melting angels,

emerging along the curve of the arched and impatient

back of an infinite ridge top.


And out of this circadian pulse—fight for ground—

upward ascension—

arrows of darting bluebirds freeze and mercury punctures

the black heavens—

metallic assemblages of passing moments and diminishing light

are shields and swords in nighttime’s interminable advance

into tomorrow.


But behind screams of running wind,

from corroded scarlet pools flecked with

red needles and cones, now fallen paupers,

from ever-budding spruce citadels,

from shadowy velvet robes forever folding into galaxies…


From kingdoms eternal

drips the tryst of the blushed communion—

collapsing moment—

forcing the holy ombre space

of rose pink dusk and pale blue dawn

to be shared in an otiose attempt

for the radiant pearl Moon to





the blood red Sun.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via Jenna P. Lyons. Papoose Fire, CO}



About Jenna Penielle Lyons

Jenna Penielle Lyons was born in Portales, New Mexico among sage and sand. Raised in Pocatello, Idaho among the black rock and juniper, she grew up wandering in cowboy boots, running, riding bikes, skiing, climbing, painting, and studying classical ballet. She is a scholar of English Literature, a poet, painter, photographer, musician, and outdoorswoman. She winters in Missoula and spends the summer working for Snake River Hotshots. She is a lover of mountain bluebirds & elephants, tea & good coffee, Carl Jung, Salvador Dali, skiing, climbing in the desert, yoga, harp music, and sagebrush. Her favorite foods are borscht and any combination of chocolate and cayenne pepper. Check out her work and follow her adventures at her website.


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