Fire Chief in Chief

in Environment/Wildfires by

You look at other countries where they do it
differently, and . . . and it’s a whole different
story. I was with the President of Finland, and
he said, “We have a . . . a much different . . .
we’re a forest nation.” He called it a forest
nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking
and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t
have any problem.

—Donald Trump

In the Old Songs about Finland, the rake
was a sacred symbol

for by raking the forests,
the people conquered fire.

And also werewolves;
minus the crunch of leaves underfoot,

they went away, loped west
along the Moon Path.

What’s the point, they grumbled,
when you can’t spook people with a twig-crack?

Better to move to Sweden,
stalk some hunters through the underbrush,

or keep on
all the way to Norway, gorge and howl.

And in the Old Songs, drought was a never a problem;
they raked the clouds to make rain,

just reached right up with handles two miles long.
A quick swish to make it

spiral. Or maybe a zigzag
flourish. Like Sky Art falling

into puddles
stupid with joy,

into rivers where the fish
commence spawning

then breezes carry that lust across nine months
and into the future.

The future where Finnish babies
dream of rakes

under mobiles
of musical rakes . . .

how they’ll use them to combat carbon pollution,
rake warming right out of the air.

There’s a guy on TV, an American,
who’s sure it’ll work.



‘Make America Rake Again’: Confusion in Finland over Trump’s wildfire comments [CNN]
How California’s efforts to prevent wildfires reflect a national crisis on climate change [The New Yorker]

Rob Carney is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press, July 2018) and 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in Columbia Journal, Poets Reading the News, and many others, and he writes a regularly featured series called “Old Roads, New Stories” for Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. He writes in Salt Lake City.