Poetry by Frederick Wilbur

Love's Fire

In moonless hours of immense black,

a volunteer fireman dreams of drowning, 

wakes gasping to a different distress.

The dispatcher’s voice crackles to tell

him where hell is tonight.

He sirens familiar curves, bridges,

railroad tracks, knows where he is going: 

knows the Victorian mansard on Grace Street, 

where the tease of a first kiss still burns his lips.

Years gone, she has traveled beyond 

letter writing and high school reunions.


Orange rips the night, stars unseen,

riots of flame are shameful in their hunger.

Drone of engines, spit and pop of pine framing,

screams and whip of wire make a wicked music.

He knows arsons of the heart like pornography 

incinerated in guilt and joins his duty at the nozzle.

The smoldering pain, the PTSD, he wants extinguished 

as each fire is a reminder of losing and loss.

The devastation is realized at dawn’s first light:

desire like death is terribly indifferent. 

Ashes have settled blacker than a smudge from an old eraser,

not a sympathy, not a place where green will grow.

Frederick Wilbur’s poetry collections are Conjugation of Perhaps (Main Street Rag, 2020) and As Pus Floats the Splinter Out (Kelsay Books, 2018). His work has appeared in The Comstock Review, Dalhousie Review, Green Mountains Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Lyric, New Verse News, One Art: a journal of poetry, and Shenandoah among others. He is co-editor of poetry and blogger for Streetlight Magazine.