For my brother

Together we throw flame into orbit.
The frantic patter,
the volley, the hit.
From afar it’s just stars
come down to flit.

We bend quick to the flame
and pull coals into flight
Delirious slight of hand
with a teaspoon of light
Once one caught
between my fingers and seared
and that night I wrapped
my aching hand around cold beer.

We’re boozy folk heroes
performing incredible feats
craft exquisite trajectories
with arms full of heat
Look! the arc as he sends it
hurdling toward me
bending with some
eccentric choreography—

We burn.
Our power, to drag a new comet trail
across the evening
a hymn to the reckless,
so breathless it falls to earth,
the air singeing—
we smolder.
Gods of our own solstice,
and solace,
there’s solace in this insane game;
in being the wild ones
who manhandle coals from the flames
and make them dance.

Oh! he catches behind the back,
he’s a one-man eclipse of the sun,
lays cursive lines across your eyelids
even once you’ve closed them
With a tap-tap-tap it comes flying to me
oh God—I got it! Lightning quick layup,
I shot it—always skyward.

We marvel at our savage skill,
at what we’ve harnessed.
Sleep hard with sooty hands,
flames peel us unvarnished.

One night in the smoke
with his throat full,
he turned, stilled, confessed:
You know,
I always thought
they loved you the best.

How long has he held that
pressed tight in his palm
as it scorched him?
Brave in the dim to de-clench that fist
from the ember within;
to admit what forges us.
The gentle soul who can cast flame
to the rim of the sky.
And the ember.
Exposed to air it glows,
it catches, it dies, it passes.
Toss it here.
We’ll pass it back and forth
until it’s ashes.