Disillusionment at Four O’Clock on a Thursday Afternoon

By four o’clock, most residents knew
downtown Seattle was finished.
After crossing First and Second Avenue,
billowing and bellowing, undiminished,
the towering inferno climbed to Third.
The roar of the fire could be heard
for miles around, and smoke was seen
from as far away as Tacoma. Between
the heckling crowds and their abecedarian
abilities, some of the volunteers dropped
their buckets on the spot, stopped
by their own worthlessness. Marion,
Madison, and then Spring were consumed
in a matter of minutes. All doomed.


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says


  2. Jonathan Potter says

    Marvelous! You won the race.

    • Quin Finnegan says

      Reminds me of when I was a kid and me and my cousin had a Slurpee slurping contest. He sucked his down in about five seconds, got a massive brain freeze, and then didn’t have anything else to drink. He won, but not really. Now I know how he feels.

      So yours is the better poem, I think. This is more of that prose fitted in lines with end rhymes, as Fra Angelico pointed out. But many thanks!

      • Jonathan Potter says

        I like it. Love it, actually. We’re two more pushkins closer to the fiery finish line.

        • Can’t we drag this out a little while longer? I mean, what’s the rush … I mean, yeah, that’s me talking, me who has no credibility at all concerning deadlines most of all. But I have ideas for at least two more sonnets … maybe for the second edition, I guess.

      • I second Potter – there’s something Homeric about the description. The Homeric simile seems to have taken on a life of its own.

        Especially like this:

        After crossing First and Second Avenue,
        billowing and bellowing, undiminished,
        the towering inferno climbed to Third.

        Touching all the Rings of Dante’s landscape, perhaps?

        Surprised you didn’t compare the fire to an ambush of tigers in red weather…

        But good on ya – and don’t sweat the meter – you’re comes off natural and I’m envious of that.


        • Thanks, JOB. The Dante/Irwin Allen possibility has been tugging at me for a while now. And I only wish I’d thought of tigers in red weather, because that is fantastic. So now who’s jealous? This guy (thumbs pointed meward), as so many times before.

        • Jonathan Potter says

          I really like the naturalness of the meter, too.

          • Thanks, JOP(omjo). I think the most fun was in matching Stevens and Percy in the title. That, and the felt worthlessness of the volunteer firemen (true, by the way, as was the heckling, as I’m sure you’ve read).

            • Jonathan Potter says

              I love the title. I was definitely conscious of the Percy and certainly subliminally aware of the Stevens. Yes, excellent.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        For the deadline, I just want some assurance that we have a reasonably coherent story by August 15, before I start sketching. A deadline can serve more than one purpose, of course, but my own thought was to assure a minimum amount of material, not cap the maximum — to set a floor, not a ceiling.

        Doodling will take a while, during which I think it would be perfectly fine to keep tinkering with the text.

        Also, for what it’s worth, I really would like to see — if not attempt! — at least a short story written with loosely verse-structured prose. Anyone else up for that experiment? Someday?

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