• Best of the Net 2023 Nominations

    Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY is delighted to announce the following poems have been nominated for inclusion in 2024’s Best of the Net anthology: Flight Path by Laura RodleyThe Sonnet by Ed HackRailway Station, Bendery, Moldova by Tovli SimiryanBaptism by Greg WatsonMaking Up by Larina WarnockAll the best stories are true by Julia Klatt Singer —read more—

Fire by Jen Karetnick


In third grade we were taught a curriculum concerning care.
About the body. About the homes we lived in. About how
sometimes, they were one and the same, both attracting heat,
explained by sputtering projectors in the classroom, narrators
with grave voices instructing us how to “stop, drop, and roll,”
or visitors who battled lightning’s natural zeal and other quick-
striking dangers. They gave out graphic window stickers, silver

as skeletons, for rescuers to know who was trapped by flames,
and where. But my mom forbade the attachment. An aesthete
of glass and stone, cognoscente of book and text, she kept us clear
from glue marks and slogans. But she couldn’t repress the flames
that after bed, began to ash my pajamas, shoot up my dreams.
Soon they exploded my days, too, forced me to query about
escape routes everywhere, my head abuzz about what to take or

leave behind. At night, a decade-old insomniac, I envisioned
the hidden beginnings of ignition: Shabbat candles still alive
in the sink, left alone to glow down to coals. I’d feel the plank
of my exit—hot to the touch meant a blaze—and think about how
I’d wake my family, ducking the gate of smoke. Like childhood,
vigilance became a job I couldn’t quite shake. The only time
I could sleep was when the sky extinguished any possible sizzling

wood siding with rain. Or during an inquisition of snow, figuring
nothing could burn through a blizzard. This phobia: Such trivial
kindling it took to start. So much gas for it to grow. Finding my bags
full again and again as if for visits to grandmas, my mom finally
put most of it out, pouring dirt on any sparks. But I still laid
an imaginary X on our lawn so that I could aim from the quads
for a last-ditch jump, mapping out how to go down on my own.

by Jen Karetnick, first appeared in UCity Review

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kavetchnik/
Instagram: @jenkaretnick

Editor’s Note: Poems with a restrictive form (this one is a “beautiful outlaw” — each stanza must use every letter of the alphabet except the one corresponding to its title) often fall prey to logistical difficulties, but this one challenges the reader to follow the speaker’s phobic inflammation with a beautifully written poetic narrative.


One response to “Fire by Jen Karetnick”

  1. richardsund Avatar

    Must be very difficult to write a poem in this Form and also have that same poem be very moving, as this poem is.

Leave a Reply




©2006—2023 Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY — Privacy Policy

%d bloggers like this: