Failing fire

In these soft, grey, collapsing January days
where dawn and dusk meet on main street at noon
too weak, too low to draw their weapons
and life seeps away
like air from a pricked balloon,

the fire fails:
faint flames lick the edges
of lime logs, traces of orange
in the colluding coals

There was a blaze here once,
not quite a furnace –
no iron forged, no tons of nails for tall
adventuring ships –
but enough to warm a visitor or two

You held out your hands sometimes and felt
some subtle change in temperature

Now I close one eye as I write:
mist spills uneasily out of my dreams,
dancing through my bones,
piercing or tickling my spirit

interrupting the invisible sun
while a cold wind across the cemetery
digs deeper

keeping the fire going
or putting it out

Failing Fire won the 2010 Norwich Writers’ Circle Open Poetry competition and appeared in the anthology with three other of my poems (and 66 by other people). It is available at