In the fifteen second span it took
to stretch two hundred feet of hose
down the berth of a burning bungalow,
accompanied the livelong way
by a small boy skipping with his mutt
and cheerfully ignoring
my profanity-laced imploring
to go play elsewhere faraway
like Norway or the ocean floor,
I might just as well have stood there
sermonizing on about the supple grace
of origami swans
for what little good my words did
to sway that kid and his ragamuffin pal
from the closest they’d yet come
to the miraculous and terrible.
They were wholly satisfied to stand
not six feet back in mortal danger
and watch me kick the back door open,
tongues of fire roiling
off the windows and the eaves.
And had you met their eyes just then,
you would have seen them brimming
with the iconic stuff
of epic poems and comic books,
nothing like the cruel misshapen thing
they loathed forevermore
when I grabbed them by the scruffs
and flung them over a fence
with a gruff, Get lost!
some bridge troll sent to wreck the lives
of dogs and children, some ogre
best imprisoned at the center of the earth.