To Build a Forest Fire
You can tell a photo is staged
when the frame reads: Exeunt,
and five people posing for a selfie
on the emptying log are clearly
in the middle of starting a fire,
sans brush, sans a fire pit large
enough to prevent this half-
hearted scene from blustering
into a wooded inferno. The sea
diamond blue with white hat
tent belies this staging as well
as the fresh clothes and dirtless
skin—styled hair. Even for the first
day in the woods. You can tell
a smile is staged when it’s surrounded
by other curtains, and the clearing
silences itself with the smoke
the color of an approaching sunset.
Only this, and maybe less: you
can see how a stage begins to mirror
real life when nature becomes reserved for
vicarious songs, photos of friends’ candy grins.
michael e woods is a poet and journalist currently based in Berlin, Germany, where he’s finishing his poetry and prose memoir. The manuscript earned him highest honors in English at Vanderbilt University, which also awarded him the Merrill Moore Prize for Poetry in 2015.
Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.