The Arsonist by Christian Sammartino


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The Arsonist

Call the fire department. Tell them to evacuate
my whole home town—I’ve syphoned kerosene
out of the heaters in the barn again.

The aching in the mine shaft of my heart
ignited like coal fires under Centralia
when they cremated your body.

I became an arsonist, a flamethrower
exhaling an eulogy of napalm.
Everything I own is kindling.

The inferno will outlive all our relatives,
consuming every block in our city
until I locate your new address.

Nothing about my life is a controlled burn
without you, my fire extinguisher.

I never could write your name in cursive,
but I can spell each letter in lighter fluid,
blaze a billboard you’ll see for light-years.

I hoard cardboard packets of gas station
matches so I can spark a signal fire
big enough for you to see from heaven,

the other side of the Milky Way,
wherever you hitchhiked after they scattered
your ashes across Chester County.

Where the fuck did you go after you died?

When you became an astronaut of loss,
blasting off from the silver urn pallbearers
used to launch you over our cornfield?

None of the astronomers at NASA
can calculate your wandering orbit
through the geography of space.

The Hubble telescope can’t catch
a glimpse of you no matter how hard
it squints into the bonfire of stars.

No one on the space station recognizes
the picture of you I carry in my wallet.

In a constantly exploding universe,
populated by burning neighborhoods,
your light is the only one I want to find.




Christian Sammartino

Christian Sammartino is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief for The Rising Phoenix Review. He studied English Literature and Asian Religions at Elizabethtown College. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rustbelt near his hometown of Coatesville. His works have appeared in Words Dance Publishing, Voicemail Poems, -Ology Journal, and Lehigh Valley Vanguard. Sammartino was a Resident Poet for Lehigh Lalley Vanguard during the summer of 2015. His first collection of poetry, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014. : junkyard-rhapsody.tumblr.com