confession of the neighbourhood arsonist

To Rod Moody-Corbett

the only way to get to know
the people on your building floor
is start a fire

I light a match and let it rest
on all the earthly palimpsests
of your desire

the carpet burns and burns the door
the drapes, the shapes of the décor
the games commence

the fire lays its bashful claims
and gently lick the tongues of flames
your documents

amid the sound of snapping glass
an exodus outside en masse
sounds the alarm

your neighbours are all ruffled, bare
they gossip in the open air
who did them harm

the men stand knowingly aside
they have their phones, their keys, their pride
they shoot the breeze

the women congregate as one
they tell how oil fires are begun
share theories

then from the curlicues of smoke
arrive in uniforms bespoke
the firemen

appurtenanced with axes, tanks
and ennui within their ranks
not this again

the fire marshal slowly states
the sleeper in two thirty-eight
has dropped a butt

however no one there was harmed
(though forewarned you're forearmed
the case is shut

the neighbours prattle their goodbyes
they chatter as they pass me by
back off the street

and I inhale the evening air
unknown, unseen, alive, aware
my work complete