Pyromaniac – by Stephen Daniels

 

When I was three I lit a newspaper
through the grate in the gas heater.
I threw it close to the bin, next to the sofa.
Near my new-born brother.
I remember smoke a toddler deep,
mum’s screams lifted us up
and the sofa apologised.

It continued when I was 5
with a patch work arrangement
on the carpet. An obsessed child
can sprint surprisingly quickly,
moving from each heated exchange,
singeing existence with each pile.

At 7, there appeared to be a problem.
A back garden heap of black bags,
cackle and send smoke
signals to neighbours –
that shouldn’t be ignored.

8 years old is an odd age.
It’s when you become aware
of those around you –
and their desire to hurt you.
A hedge is a suitable victim
for ritualistic retaliation.
Sometimes a stare is enough.

9 is when they label you.
It’s when you visit
the people who can help.
A doctor with a lollipop.
It is possible to shake off a name.
You just need to remember
that a bad reputation spreads
like wildfire.

 

 

 

Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry, and Strange Poetry. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines and websites, including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, The Lake, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel. You can find out more here or @stephendaniels

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