People Of The Fire {poetry}


The fire burns brightly against the Stygian darkness of the night.

Around the fire,

dancers stand posed and perfectly still.

Surrounding them are drummers and flutists,

taking their places and readying their instruments.

Joining them are singers, fire-breathers and magicians.

They have done this a thousand thousand times before.

They all wait for the lead singer,

a stout, bald and elderly man,

to begin.

All are silent,

the only sounds that can be heard are the soft wind,

the crackle here and there of the fire,

and the steady breathing of the dancers in their poses.

At last, the lead singer begins to hum,

low at first, then louder.

A flute begins to play,

followed by a single drumbeat.

The dancers move in time only with the drums.

Another drumbeat and the dancers move again.

The other singers join the lead as more flutes sound.

Another drumbeat.

Then another.

Then another.

A moment’s pause, and it begins.

A singer,

a slender young woman with long, wild hair,

recites poetry in a long dead and forgotten tongue.

When she pauses,

flutes sound a harmonious note

as drums continue to beat faster and faster.

The dancers move wildly as the fire appears to rise

higher with the dancing and the music.

Another singer joins in,

reciting the next verse.

The fire grows with each sway,

each drumbeat,

each story being told,

but never once burning the dancers who were closest to it.

The fire-breathers and magicians

join the dancers and begin

performing their talents with a hypnotic elegance.

The stories being told

through the people of the fire

speak of agony

and of ecstasy.

Of loss and grief and sorrow.

Of power and radiance.

Of love and passion and the illusion of permanence.

Up above this phenomenal spectacle,

the Moon watches with utmost fascination.

He has seen the utter fury and passion

of the people of the fire a thousand thousand times before.

And every time

it seems as if he is observing them

for the very first time.

Down below, the dancing and singing

grows louder and wilder.

To the Moon,

it seems as if all of Creation observed

with baited breath

the increasing intensity of the people.

Fire-breathers breathe out the Sun’s fire.

Magicians reach into the air and grab stardust from raw firmament.

Dancers reach into the fire and take from it lustful and soulful passion.

Gods, like phantoms, rise up out of the fire,

created and destroyed at the whim of the people.

The Moon,

for a moment,

is certain he can see an aspect of himself

amidst the flames.

As the Moon continues to watch the people,

the sky begins to lighten.

The Sun is waking up.

The people, their dancing,

the music and the fire,

curiously start to fade with the Stygian darkness.

The Moon turns his attention toward the horizon,

which is filling up with his sister’s light.

He feels exhaustion as he returns his attention to the people.

The sounds of their fury have faded completely.

They have become bones

half-covered by sand and long dead embers.

The Sun’s light completely overtakes the sky

as the Moon drifts into a heavy sleep,

taking with him dreams

of a furious dance,

magic, and the fire that was.


Tony Jay is a seeker of wonder. He has a deep admiration and love for the written word. Like da Vinci, he wants to work miracles. An aspiring yogi, writer and student, he is continuously learning to face his life, his pain and pleasure, leaving no path uncharted.


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