The Fire This Time

in Ghost Ship/Obituaries by

My family, my children by other mothers, my children
I cherish your bent being and your gender bent clothes
Your dirty faces, all your different colors
Skin and hair and fabrics and desires unexpected,
Gathered round the table, eating, drinking, laughing
telling tales of strange, often frightening adventures
And footprints on the ceiling.
It turned into a dance party, of course.
Of course someone would hold someone else
Upside down and leave footprints on the ceiling
Before you optimistically drove off
In your wild painted but broken down buses and trucks
Headed to Brooklyn or Cementland or Slab City
Wasn’t that an abandoned military base on the Mexican border?
Who else would explore an ancient house
in the back woods Mississippi?
Or was it Alabama?
Either way, too far from my comfort zone.
Who else would take over a national park for a party?
With hundreds of ravers from all over the world
Security provided by PTSD vets on meth,
“but they were cool,” you said.
For the party you made home-brewed soda pop
with hand drawn labels on scavenged bottles
Concocted in a solution of cold-press coffee
Guarana and Eleuthero and Maca,
And god knows what else you put in it.
Boiled up on the stove and bottled
Sold at that rave in the woods
Guaranteed to keep the dance going all night
Everyone needs a little something to keep on going,
The rangers might show up any moment
The party is always bound to get busted
Now is the perfect time for lasers
Light painting the forests and far skies
The heavy beat of electro-house,
Or is it trance, or something called deep dub
I don’t know because I’m old but
You boys and girls with your spirited re-names
Your connection to and denial of
All that’s crass and commercial
Ballet on bicycles or trimming in Mendocino
Dance dangling on skeins of silk
High over head without a net,
Without any safety precautions.
Defying the odds to snatch you, but
The odds were never in your favor
The odds are not in our favor either
What are the odds of a motorcycle’s handle bar
Penetrating a woman’s skull,
Somehow missing her helmet
The one you refuse to wear… it doesn’t seem to matter
She wore the helmet and was forever altered
You won’t wear a helmet and I’m forever altered.
What are the odds of a big D depression
Getting to be too much this time, some time
It’s impossible, it’s unreal,
It’s the guesswork of greater powers than mine.
Forget all that, let’s talk about the fire.
What are the chances of you leaving the party
Just before the fire starts.
No, not Ghost Ship,
Remember New Orleans?
Who can forget NOLA?
The fire where ten of your friends perished,
Free spirits afloat in the smoke and flames,
Just another warehouse maze like every other
What are the chances that you won’t get to the party
Until after the fire starts, with all your friends
Hugging, Dancing and then 36 or so disappear.
Forever kith-n-kin lost in clouds of fiery dense smoke
And now you’re railing, railing against the inevitable
The recognition that even if it’s not you who died
Some part of you dies each time, every time.
Pounding on the ground, pounding on the walls
“Don’t take this away, too,” you say
That place of peace and communion
The one we all yearn for
But somehow you keep on going
Creating such illegal sacred spaces
While we worry about the inevitable
You build a better, wholer world
While we worry about the future
A future no one is guaranteed.
Oh my family, my children by other mothers, my children
You keep on going on,
Creating, Communing, Living.
I cherish you. I love you.
All of you with your smoke smudged faces.
Please don’t leave me behind.
Take me with you when you go.



Upon an Oakland Fire [Poets Reading the News]
Out of Oakland Ashes [Poets Reading the News]

An ink stained wretch, Fred Dodsworth spent most of the last 30 years in newsrooms picking fights. The truth is a slippery bastard and he lost most of those fights. Now he writes poetry and fiction because there’s more truth to be found in fiction than in any news story ever printed.