Every so often, I set fire to my life
believing I’m practicing alchemy.
I touch a match to it, and my world
explodes into red roar roaring flames of anger
or slowly boils dry on blue licks of lust.
It combusts with the bright yellow heat of ambition
or disintegrates into white-hot flashes of self-loathing,
singeing me with its howling ferocity.
Sometimes it ignites in a green burst of envy,
choking the air with the acrid scent of regret,
or blooms with the slow, torturous orange glow of despair.
Each time, afterwards,
I poke through the remains looking for something precious enough
to pay the cost of all the wreckage I’ve left.
I stir the ruins of each separate immolation with a stick —
as though they were tea leaves to be read for meaning —
before sweeping the mess into the dustbin
and starting again.
It’s only recently I’ve realized that the answer was always there,
that all I had to do was listen to the wind
lifting the edges of the swirling debris:
“Put away the matches. Stop this madness.
You solve nothing with all of this beautiful destruction.
No matter what brilliant color the flame
all ash is grey.”