We take an evening stroll,
the last night before ash
begins to float
like mothy snowflakes.

We stop to gape at the rare, 
rainbow glistening bears
in the street light,
handful of childhood magic.

“Take a picture,” you say.
We attempt to capture
the curvature of stubby paw,
gelatinous head.

The bag, a bereft afterbirth
of spoiled fun
left by children on bikes,
scooters, legs.

And the bears felt the sun set
into their stomachs
rested their backs on cool
cement into twilight,

stars pinged off their smile
crevices, eyes pointed
at the heavens, soft ears
tuned-in to crickets.

The next day, the sun, a corona
of red-orange, rung.
The state’s on fire.

Red Map, California

Bandanas pinch noses,
at the nape of necks.

Bandits of the century,
stolen America, take

deep breaths of forest, charred
notes on throats.

Remember redwoods?
disruptive grubs,

hammer another human
of wood and nails.

Northern homes enter
ashen feet on lungs, run

up arteries, hearts branch
as far as legs will carry them.

Not far enough.
model the map as it burns.

Katie Kemple’s poems have appeared recently in The Racket, The Sock Drawer, Harbinger Asylum, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, and The Dewdrop, among others.

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