Day #5 National Poetry Month, 30 Days, 30 Readings: “Fire Flies” by DJB

I bet you were thinking I wasn’t going to make it. Well, it’s still and hour and a half before midnight, so here is day five of 2012’s National Poetry Month project, 30 days, 30 readings. This time I thought I’d read for you one of my own. I hope you like it.

The images were picked up from a search not long ago for creative commons pictures of lightning bugs, or fire flies. Unfortunately I didn’t seem to save the references, so I will try to find those for you later. Deadlines, you know. The birch trees I found tonight on this blog.


Fire Flies

It was July, you were
nearly eight years old.
I was almost ten.
We stayed out late again
to watch the stars and fireflies
rise above your father’s farm.

I was Keeper of the Jar
as we ran through tall grass
and warm sweet summer air,
the scent of unseen lilacs
by the path. I sneezed

and dropped the jar.
Like a glass of falling stars
it rolled off down the hill,
and we chased after,
laughing, loosing breath
and sight in the undergrowth.

We tumbled into a stand
of birch trees at the bottom,
slim bent columns
mirroring moonlight.
A wish of wind brushed
branches overhead between
the stars. Enchanted
we stood silent a long while–

at last recalled the jar,
fumbled in the grass until you
spotted it behind a rock,
and bent to pick it up.

Was it the wet warmth
of your hand or the sight
of it, blood, black in the night?
Was it the stain of firefly
luminescence on the grass,
on your shoes and hands,
or the panic on my breath
that made you gasp?

I led you, hand
over tennis shoe
back up the steep path,
chunks of dirt
lodged in our fingernails.
What would our mothers say?

I think we cried,
but never spoke of that.
A bath, a cookie or two,
the sting of peroxide,
and the sour scent
of something blood-red
from a bottle, applied
in drops that stained
and stuck to skin
and memory.

The slow wings
of your bedroom curtains,
like the branches of birch
gave glimpses of the stars,
shining softly white.

The night-light smeared
a green-yellow glow that night
across the carpet and the hall,
and into everything.

© 2012 by David J. Bauman

12 Comments Add yours

  1. David,
    Wonderfully written and read! I love the way the imagery leads you through the story…
    I especially enjoyed the following lines

    “Like a glass of falling stars”

    “I led you hand over shoe”

    “And the sour scent of something blood red from a bottle applied in drops that stained and stuck to skin and memory”

    “The night light smeared a green yellow glow”

    Thanks for sharing… on some of the previous posts, you posted the words in the post or as part of the video. Care to do the same this time and add them to your post?




    1. sonofwalt says:

      Done, Stephen. I added the text after the video on this page. I think I may have changed a couple of words in the reading, but it’s mostly right. I confess I was a little reluctant to put them in the video at first, perhaps just being self-conscious. I don’t often read or post poems here if I am thinking about submitting them in print elsewhere. Unfortunately a lot of print and online poetry journals will consider a poem already published if it has been online, sometimes even just in a poetry workshop. I’m not sure why that is. Concern about first copyright rights? That seems odd, since poetry is not exactly a big money making business. Concern about authentic ownership? Perhaps. Ego? Very likely.

      As I did some editing on this piece tonight it occurred to me that I may want to try to publish it somewhere else. But then, I also very much wanted to share it here.

      So thank you very much for your kind compliments. I really do appreciate them.


  2. David,
    I appreciate it! I really like this poem and appreciate being able to pour over the words again. I really like the “stuck to skin and memory” and can remember that “stuff” being applied to my cuts.
    At some point I may ping you via e-mail if you don’t mind as I would like to submit some of my poetry but have yet to do so… Advice would be appreciated.




  3. sonofwalt says:

    Thank you, Stephen. I used to remember what that stuff was called… curi… something, but I thought it might be a brand name. My mother swore by the stuff.

    And I’d be honored, Stephen. Please be patient with my response time though. 🙂 My ability to get side tracked is part of why I am doing this blog and this project. Oooh, look at the cute kitty…


  4. sonofwalt says:

    I just noticed a few words between the middle and the end got changed but didn’t carry over into the text. I shall fix that… Later. Long day tomorrow and gotta figure out where to fit a small reading in. Good night.


  5. David,
    My mom did too… Mercurochrome…
    Interesting little article… for all that spare time you have 😀




    1. sonofwalt says:

      I will have to check that article out. Yup, that was the name, and I am stunned that I couldn’t remember. I’m starting to feel that I am getting old. 🙂


    2. sonofwalt says:

      Holy cow! Mercury? LOL That could explain a lot. YIkes


  6. John says:

    This is so good! Reading it makes me feel as if I’m there, right along with you and your friend.

    Thanks for sharing one of your own!


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Aw, thank you, John. I really appreciate hearing that. I’m glad you could get into it. He was my cousin. It seems I am starting to write a series of poems about him. So maybe you’ll see more.


  7. So I’m finally catching up with the posts I missed, and now I can say that this is, hands down, my FAVORITE. It’s just fantastic to hear your own poem in your own voice. And what a poem! Frostian in the best way: memory infused with nature and marked indelibly into the body. The sounds, too, are marvelous. I love this passage:

    “A wish of wind brushed
    branches overhead between
    the stars. Enchanted …”

    “Enchanted”: yes, exactly.

    You write above that you’re usually reluctant to record your own poems, but wow, what a treat they are to hear & read. Do you have some already-published pieces that you could do videos of?


    1. sonofwalt says:

      What wonderful compliments you give, Jennifer. I thank you. I am so glad you liked it. This one is of special meaning to me. I lost my cousin years later in a car accident, so I have more about him from over the years.

      And, yes, I do have a few others I’ve been thinking of reading. I have a few on the YouTube channel too, that I don’t think I’ve shared here yet. Maybe I’ll bring them over first. I have been wanting to post more of my own, as I need to update even the bio page. I think I last updated that in 2010! 🙂 Thank you again, truly.


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