“Liberty” by John Glowney

John Glowney


Fire in the hole says my neighbor. Dry roofs. Dry lawns.
The reservoir’s low. It’s been an extra-dry summer.
Too dry to set off fireworks mutters everyone except him.
But here we are, milling about in the closed-off street,
eating three bean salad and hot dogs blackened
on a grill dragged off the back deck while he gleefully rains
hot sparks everywhere. Tim next door has his garden hose
out, dampening down his straw-colored grass. He’ll
set us all on fire, we whisper, no regard for the property
of others. Someone tosses out some smoke bombs,
the street fills with waves of green, yellow, blue.
Kids run through the smoke as strings of firecrackers fizz.
They wave sparklers against the approaching dark,
against the world of adults, for liberty, for its pursuit.
He shouldn’t be setting those off, we all murmur,
like children secretly in love with the fresh fear
of each new explosion. Another loud burst of silver
sprays over our heads. Fire in the hole, he shouts.

from Poets Respond
July 4, 2021


John Glowney: “‘Liberty’ is a poem that began as a response to the Fourth of July a few years ago, was set aside, and was picked up again today and finished off. Seattle just experienced a ‘heat dome,’ with three days of record temperatures, which is what reminded me of this unfinished poem, and the approaching holiday brought it back.”

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