Blowtorch Experiment No. 2 (flame & oil on canvas) By Kara Dorris

Blowtorch Experiment No. 2 (flame & oil on canvas)

You say the painting looks like a pink Valentine’s heart
left to the rain, know flooded hearts

in our hands make the best accelerants—
what chance does the canvas have? Oil paint, like us, acts

as its own gasoline, tempts flames
into waves; edges sear,

ripple like fingertips soaked too long in a bowl of water.
My friend, the painting reminds me of Rilke’s bowl of roses,

filled up with ultimate instances of being & bowing down,
that we can’t help but surround ourselves

with contradictions of isolation & intimacy.
When asked how to escape a summer day’s heat,

the Buddha replied, why not leap into the heat of a blazing furnace.
As in extreme escape, as in it could always be worse.

Feel the heat, remember: it is possible to live as blowtorches:
brothers fisting oak & mothers tonguing blackberries

& ash, families soaking raw hands in Epsom salt,
lovers acetylene-torching photos, shirts, & sheets.

Marcus Aurelius wrote nothing can happen to any man
that nature has not fitted him to endure. I want to believe.

By Kara Dorris


Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas where she teaches writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Tinderbox, KYSO Flash, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011).Her stories have appeared in Wordgathering and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016). She has published two chapbooks: Elective Affinities (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal

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