“We Raised Flames” was published last year in Crossroads III. Thanks Kayli for sharing the story-telling power of poetry!


We Raised Flames


We were masters of sand creations

No cheating with that plastic-bucket-mold crap –

We were original

Handfuls of thick sand mud plopped through our fingers

Rising turrets and twisting spirals composed of hundreds of tiny sand dollops

Decorations of seaweed strands and smooth shells that looked almost purple under water


You showed me how to drink the nectar from honeysuckle

I taught you how to blow bubblegum bubbles before all the sugar dissolved


Huddled around the stone fire pit out back

We raised flames from sticks and embers

S’mores were a bonus but never the objective

We nurtured burning embers

To see their flickering pulses

Red and yellow Morse code


Pioneers in the land of pyromania

Until the night you threw a lighter into the fire

Your mom had to fish it out with a stick

We sat quietly as she yelled about explosions


We promised never again


When the grownups wanted to talk late

And said they’d carry us into the car when it was time to go home

We would lie out on the porch tucked into sleeping bags

Noses almost touching


The only lie I ever told you was on one of our porch-nights

Not even a lie, really

A porch-night fiction

And only because I loved to see your smile


The wooden floorboards creaked as we whispered

Side by side

You said you had always wanted to see someone sleepwalk

Well I always wanted to see your smile


I let you believe I had drifted off

Then I stumbled slowly around the porch

Peered through mostly-closed eyelids

Aimed for the chairs

So you could lunge forward and

Wake me before disaster stuck


I would say thank you

You would describe every detail

Back into our sleeping bag forts

I would count to 60 and our ritual would begin again


Every time you saved me from death-by-chair

Your hands steady on my shoulder

I would open my eyes to your wide eyed

Toothy grin


When we were thirteen, we almost kissed

But one of us started laughing – I can’t remember who –

And laughing seemed like more fun anyway

So we decided not to have another go at it


I don’t think I ever told you about the porch-night fiction

Just let you believe

But there was the one night –

Years after your mom yelled about explosions

We were raising flames from sticks and embers

I pulled out the lighter stashed in my pocket

We threw it in together –

I almost told you then