Blue Cut Blues By Ellen Girardeau Kempler

Blue Cut Blues

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

In these drought-parched parts
firefighters call the vegetation “fuel.”
It might as well be kerosene,
carried on salamander trucks,
to ignite, then feed, the fire.

When wind & dry heat meet,
tinder & sparks conspire to burn,
driving forward in a whirling storm
through alphabets of subdivided streets.

Along the always-gridlocked route
to Vegas from L.A., the evacuees
stand still & silent: experiencing
the sear of ravenous flames.

Their salamander suits protect them
from the truth—that they are climate
refugees, drowning in a rain of ash,
choking on smoke & their own denial.

By Ellen Girardeau Kempler


My poems have been published in Spectrum, Orbis (UK), Arrow and a number of other small presses. They have also been shortlisted for the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Prize and Ireland’s Fish Poetry Prize (judged by Billy Collins) and have won three first place awards in the annual Laguna Beach Library Poetry Contest. This year one of my poems won the Blackwater International Poetry Prize, an award that comes with a all-expenses paid trip to Cork, Ireland, to read at the 2017 Blackwater Poetry Festival.

My essays, opinion pieces and feature articles have appeared in The Atlantic, L.A. Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and numerous other publications.

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