Tom Sheehan ~ The Soft Fire of Rot


Dawn limps in,
night crawls away
on hands and knees
these four centuries
of this house.

It is the soft fire of rot
burning up a blow-down log
that has no smoke
or crushed red flame,
no moving parts one
sees in mechanics
of heat exchange.

The base fire, the core
of pulping heat,
banked in waves of itself,
cannot be extinguished
by any coat or cover.

By such logs I’ve seen ants
in battalion dress,
ranks fitted to the wheels
of their endless looping
caravans, army off the hearts
of these smokeless fires.

By such moves a beach
is drained of sand, a vacuum
infinitely tends to nothingness,
a hundred years of tree
goes underground again.

The house has edges soft
as sheepskin in secret places,
a hidden beam, an upright
at odds with a time past,
hangs at dangle, it’s loose
ends gone well past
participation, supplication.

Speed does not count
in vulnerability. Or size.
Grains, motes, atoms,
all things as small
as we can be, burn in
the slow incendiaries,
elemental soft fires
commissioned in old logs,
beams, boards, beings.

By such logs
the amaranth grows.


Tom Sheehan is 2016 DM Writer-in-Residence. Read more of Tom’s leviathan ink energy in the current, past, and upcoming issues of Danse Macabre (

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