Ash and Prayer

summer mornings
my fire
is snuffed.

dream of the spelt and salt
cake I will fire for you

and before you can seek
the future
from the way I burn

clean my fireplace, clear your head
old ash and cinders block gust
makes for poor-burning,
makes for poor-thinking

piled ash in my grate
piled ash in my head
crumbles like walls
from incendiaried homes
in the Blitz

ash up against my fire-bars
makes them overheat
makes you overthink

so they sag and “burn through”
make me virginal
something to focus on

recall collecting ears
of spelt in reaper’s baskets

rake remains of my last fire
the last fire between my temples
so ash falls through my grate
train steam in your nostrils

pick-off the cinders for re-use.

my lightweight dark lumps,
not my powdery un-burnable
pieces of roasted shale.

clear my fire-bars of small cinders,
clear all my ash, clear all the dead,
dry bones out of my head

recall the crush, grind then roast the ears of spelt, yeasty
like a pint of beer

with dry, unfinished paper
cheap-newsprint not glossy magazine-print. screw sheets into rough balls,
packed into this brain space
not too tight, but not too loose.

keep the paper open & crinkly
don’t pack paper into hard nuggets,
make them roughly spherical.

should cover my grate,
with plenty of space to allow gust
to blow away focus these eyes

only one layer, as paper burns down everything on top will drop,
roof falling in around my ears
leave it at a couple of inches

recall preparing the salt,
pound crystals from the brine
from a salt pan in a mortar,
pack and inhale seafret
cut the lump with an iron saw

paper is to ignite the wood (next),
the next thought
only enough,
too much will clog fire-bars
cause stack-collapse

as your paper doesn’t burn well,
stuff a loose sheet under my grate
under my thoughts
light it
stuff sheets underneath
burn them

recall forbidden
reading, books in flame,
memories of things not spoken
discarded ideas

break up my ash with a poker

recall stir of salt and spelt
into carried spring water pure
never touched the ground
into meal that must be rested

my pulped treeflesh
a support for my woodflesh
a flicker of an idea
a first layer of contemplation


my thought needs substance
crouched supplicant
to our hearthmind

you can’t light my coal with paper
my wood layer is for coal
as my paper is for wood

layer on my paper
small pieces of wood (kindling)
watch for splinters embedding
in fingers for pain all day
or a heated steel pin to remove.
with care
make a wooden-pallet
a raft of images
on balled up paperwaves
to support the coal
so my imagination flares
as it it burns.

You pray the raft will hold
criss-cross the wood
a cohesive structure
your making of my fireplace,
my head is layered
geology reversed

as paper from trees
dead trees made coal
graduations of image,
thought and idea

When your paper is gone
the raftprayer to hold stays
a mixture of thick and thin
thin ideas burn easily produce heat,
thick sustains in depth
delights the imaginations coal

The burn

like wood is imagination solidified
sunblaze trapped
build a pile of imagination
on top of your wood-raft
have a nice pile in the middle.

choose pieces too small
air-flow round the head
restricted visuals cannot breathe

choose pieces too big
don’t get enough heat
from the wood to
ignite images properly.

ensure fire-front is removed
for maximum air-flow,
ignite the paper from underneath
ignite heads images underneath

in multiple places –
get as much lit
quickly as possible,
heat will feed between
ignition points

Imagination needs time,
the fire blaze
while wood and paper left,
this cellulose-fuel
heats imagination -fire
to self-sustain

hard images are buried deep
pressured become harder, blacker
used in locomotives and steam ships
pitsweat minehacked proppedimages

soft images are nearer the surface
browner nostalgic soft focus
biscuit tin tender

Imagination produces smoke
and tar
when heated only
when it’s “dried out”
you get the red-hot
carbon fire that makes
imagination so hot.

Recall tar melting on roads
in sunblaze, sticks to soles
coal tar soap photosynthesizes
calls back its days as a plant

onvd your fire is lit poke it gently
to release ash and break-up images
that may have stuck together
through tar production
sticky mind coagulates

arrange cinders around
the edge, add more images
around fires periphery
around minds periphery

do not throw a bucket
of imagination
on a fire, always put a
bit at the edges
or in the middle.

the images are poked
so ash falls through the firebars
so ash fall through the head

lift the burning images
ensure ash is removed
from under the fire bars

imagination needs time to warm up,
don’t smother the fire with cold-images
these will kill the lovely heat,
take longer to burn up.

pile it up around the edges,
when it starts burning:
poke and rake it
into the centre gradually.

divine futures from the way
food thrown on fire decays

how virgin cakes of salt
and spelt bake
towards decay in heat
tongueflicked wild
jig of ideas

before their ashreturn

© 2017, Paul Brookes

From “The Headpoke And Firewedding”



The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

One thought on “Ash and Prayer

  1. What an interesting analogy/metaphor. There is a lot of truth in your lines, and it’s a good reminder for those of us struggling to find the ‘spark’ of inspiration that we must begin with a clean, uncluttered mind and build the weighty ideas slowly, carefully. Thank you for sharing this with us this month! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Kindly phrased comments welcome here.

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