Shriveled leaves were a mistake, retained
enough damp to smolder the lighter’s spark
into smoke that seeps from cast iron edges
in defiance of flue’s creosote breath into lungs
of gray sky mottled overhead like thermal
underwear stretched too far past its elastic
band to snap back. Another summer slimmer,
I poke in charred stems, an anatomist of ash,
wondering how to stack the wood to catch.
Heraclitus would have the origin of all things
everliving fire in which souls come into being
and pass away. It’s the burning, not what burns.
Ravi Shankar is Associate Professor and Poet-in-Residence at Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the international online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat. He has published a book of poems, Instrumentality (Cherry Grove), named a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards and co-authored a chapbook with Reb Livingston, Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books). His creative and critical work has previously appeared in such publications as The Paris Review, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, The Massachusetts Review, Fulcrum, McSweeney’s and the AWP Writer’s Chronicle, among many others. He has taught at Queens College, University of New Haven, and Columbia University, where he received his MFA in Poetry. He has appeared as a commentator on NPR and Wesleyan Radio and read his work in many places, including the Asia Society, St. Mark’s Poetry Project and the National Arts Club. He currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book and along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, is co-editing an anthology of contemporary South Asian, East Asian Poetry, due out with W.W. Norton & Co. in Spring 2008.