• ‘Camp Fire,’ A Poem by sam sax

    "how unusual for this place without water to be now drowned in it."

    after the fires come rain
    & in the time between
    one devastation & another
    we delight in the normal
    pleasures of a sky weeping
    like an adolescent
    in a multiplex parking lot—
    how unusual for this place
    without water to be now
    drowned in it, people lift
    their heads—tree farms
    drinking at the gray tap.
    it hasn’t rained since i moved
    back & i know after this
    comes the mudslides from
    the ruined hillsides
    & later—wild blooms
    of near devastating beauty
    which too will die & dry
    into food for a new fire
    even more terrifying than
    the last—where our breathing
    masks will laugh at our
    efforts to respire here.
    & still despite its portent
    the rain this morning
    is lovely. the sound of it
    outside my window
    does what it did as a child—
    permissions us to stay in
    or go out & be wetted along
    with everyone who lives
    here, who too exists in this
    circumstance of weather,
    who breathes in the wet
    sidewalk. i watch the trees
    drink & glisten like old
    drag queens—read
    an article from my father
    on the hatred of jews
    in europe. violence & fire
    on the rise & on the horizon.
    i read the article & then
    read the article again
    this time only for the names
    of cities where statues are
    cut from marble into
    the shape of men so beautiful
    & soft you can’t help
    but fall in love. the stone
    breathing & hot & when wet
    almost dancing. 


    The preceding is from the Freeman’s channel at Literary Hub, which features excerpts from the print editions of Freeman’s, along with supplementary writing from contributors past, present and future. The upcoming issue of Freeman’s, a collection of writings on California, featuring work by Tommy Orange, Rabih Alameddine, Rachel Kushner, Mai Der Vang, Reyna Grande, and more, is available in October.

    Sam Sax
    Sam Sax
    Sam Sax is a queer, jewish poet, and educator. He's the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, The Iowa Review Award, & American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Nation, Poetry Magazine and other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press and will be a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University this Fall.

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