We are on bikes when clouds roll low into our street
Cloaking our final minutes of autumn light
Hints of charcoal-charred meat blow in the breeze
We are late for dinner
We don’t care
Eyes and noses search for the smoke’s source
We pedal as fast as feet allow until
Parents, police officers, and firefighters scold us
Forbidden to go any farther
Closer to the blazing behemoth across the street.
Fierce red-yellow flames whip through windows,
Seizing the wide warehouse’s five floors.
Carson hears crying chickens
Squawking over crashing glass and sirens
Praying for relief from rushing water
But the chickens are already dead
Packaged for mass consumption
Friends abandon regular television programming
And gather before the bonfire building
Flames reducing it to fragile frames.
Conversation are cautious and concerned
Until Mr. Barlow asks:
Who’s bringing the marshmallows?
Let’s toast the stricken chickens
Reduced to ash that autumn night
Never fulfilling their ultimate mission
Yet giving their all
To the most bodacious barbecue
Our neighborhood has ever hosted
If you like this poem, The Christmas I Regret is also a personal memoir you might appreciate.