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a poem from the paper trail

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red flag warning

In the fifth hour of the migraine,
I imagine the harsh south wind
shoulder the pine tree in front of the house
There’s a river, and that I’m on my bed in a dark room,
on my back and motionless to prevent the pain from waking up,
I’m in a narrow boat, canoe or driftboat, or that I’m Ishmael
Cuckoogg’s coffin, carried away from the rubble, hangs
The waves of the sea churned by the wrath of the great whale, but I know
The warm wind blows not by water but by fire, and that this autumn
The world is burning, divided only into burnt
And those who are still burnt, and I smell smoke,
But that’s a migraine, and the phone rings again
and burns my head again in a shower of sparks,
warning metal sounds
In this hot political weather,
The fire outside my door.

Pepper TrailPepper Trail is a poet, photographer and professional biologist whose poems have been published rattlehandjob Atlanta Reviewhandjob Limithandjob unexpectedhandjob climbing, and other publications. Pepper has published three collections, time of flighthandjob an empty bowl, and Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, which was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he finds reason for hope in the beauty he created.

Header photo by Vladcigal, courtesy Shutterstock.

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