This Week in Poetry

I wanted to write a poem about the California wildfires but was too overwhelmed with anger and grief. Today I found Molly Fisk’s poem, “Particulate Matter”, posted on Rattle’s Poet’s Respond. Thank you, Molly Fisk. Your poem says everything I wanted to say and then some. The photo is courtesy of


If all you counted were tires on the cars left in driveways and stranded beside the roads.

Melted dashboards and tail lights, oil pans, gas tanks, window glass, seat belt clasps.

The propane tanks in everyone’s yards, though we didn’t hear them explode.


R-13 insulation. Paint, inside and out. The liquor store’s plastic letters in puddled

colors below their charred sign. Each man-made sole of every shoe in all those closets.

The laundromat’s washers’ round metal doors.


But then Arco, Safeway, Walgreens, the library — everything they contained.

How many miles of electrical wire and PVC pipe swirling into the once-blue sky:

how many linoleum acres? Not to mention the valley oaks, the ponderosas, all the wild


hearts and all the tame, their bark and leaves and hooves and hair and bones, their final

cries, and our neighbors: so many particular, precious, irreplaceable lives that despite

ourselves we’re inhaling.


Molly Fisk

Today on Rattle, Poets Respond

Posted 11-25-2018