57/69 Fast, Cheap, Unscannable, and Out of Control

Bartolomeo Manfredi

there is a magic about an open fire
an almost hypnotic attraction
watch people, whenever adults conspire
to socialize outdoors they spring to action
fifty-seven techniques for bringing it to fire
sixty-nine techniques for reducing it to coals
and in the darkened twilight sparks conspire
to spin and twirl and rise and beat their fiery brains out on the shoals
of deep and mystic, mysterious milky seas
that taunt us with elusive dreams of galaxies

so we made fire, so what—do we really care—
bane fires, cook fires, magic fire to carry away and light
this brazen, all too insubstantial night—
or do we stand around like drunks and stare

they had plans for us in those days
the youth today must think we were all crazy
but they had plans and there were ways
though I admit that looking back it seems a little hazy
fifty-seven lines that never seem to scan
sixty-nine excuses for always falling short
but still there was a time they had a plan
no longer, now there’s nothing to report
and naught to dare against, no reason to be brave
no stuff above us but grim sky, no place below us but a grave

and yet
there are

fifty-seven ways that we connive
sixty-nine sly ways to stay alive

—Don Whittington


2 thoughts on “57/69 Fast, Cheap, Unscannable, and Out of Control

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