California, 2020

North, South, and Central,
wildfires under a quarter moon
threaten the entire state.

The fire moon looks down on them
red as it rises into the night.
The Devil, I think,
grins there tonight
as I walk along the street,
avoiding late-summer heat and smoke–
the evil orange
of day-time skies.

Still, the drift of fine gray ash
from fires burning miles away,
floats over hillsides and peaks,
up canyons, under rocky cliffs,
across the flatland grasses,
blowing toward and away
from homes and streets,
wherever the winds direct.

Incandescent energy rises
out of drought and heat.
The fire-moon soars,
above it all
shedding its ruddy light
bringing fear for all to see
when they look up
awaiting a new dawn’s break.

Selected byKaci Skiles Laws
Image credit:Claudia Dea

Mark Grinyer has published poetry in print and on-line literary magazines across the U. S. and overseas. His poems have been published in The Main Street Rag, Rattle, The Kansas Quarterly, The Literary Review, The Spoon River Quarterly, The Pacific Review, Perigee, Cordite, Writers Resist, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Irises: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize annual, and elsewhere. A chapbook, Approaching Poetry, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press.

Born into a military family in the early days of the Cold War, Mark Grinyer spent most of his childhood and youth following his father, an Air Force officer, to many different stations in the United States and overseas. He went to college at the University of California, Riverside, where he began writing and publishing poetry.  After being drafted into the Army in 1969, he returned to the university, and received a PhD in English and American Literature. He developed a particular interest in the roles of poetry and poets in modern society, and in the use of scientific and natural scenes or images as vehicles for understanding our place in the modern world. He spent the next 25 years working as a technical editor and proposal specialist in industry and as a Lecturer at California State University in Fullerton. After retiring, he continued with his poetry and renewed his attempts to publish it in literary journals and books. He is currently writing and living on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California.