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Poem – Interstate Pyre Song (By Josh Lowder)

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Interstate Pyre Song


‘An alleged arsonist started a fire that burnt

up a concrete bridge near Atlanta, GA.

The FBI found no connections to terrorism.’

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Do not go nearer the first responder—

I fear for the yellow-clad men

blinded by more than the news-miner’s

smile. The intrepid reporter projects

across the room at me with a face,

over hours, soon smelted of its rest.

The flickering frame of pixelating rain

squelches the not-here, on-location

scene of billowing black smoke that chokes

the ribboning sky of its high blue above.


The bridge burns from beneath after a cracked head

lights a chair set in a buggy and kicks it

into corrugated conduit coils stacked haphazardly,

forgotten there by the city’s utilities.


Rush hour hits NE Atlanta: a snarl well into night.


Folli-cool’s Fashion Wigs empties onto Piedmont:

the hair models molt in the fried air:

neighbors in adult novelties eject a handful of shifty

miscreants, newborns bathed of blasphemy

in the sear-waves that emanate.


Released, the four Carolina-bound lanes crumble,

splash into burning plastic, release the devil’s belch—

a toxic ball of autumnal orange:

a pumpkin at sunset rolls upward, becomes

a burnt cauliflower false as night.


It chimneys above the pie-eyed afeared

bowing to their torched commute before

flames are tamed, the night’s rain brings steam

to the air around the macadam melt-heap: I can’t help

but recall the collapse of another rock-

solid structure that burnt fast into jagged rebar—

steel fingers dripped more firmament dust.

Still-lit sirens sing the neighbors awake.


Author Bio: Josh Lowder

Josh received his Poetry MFA from College of Charleston in 2018, where he won the First Crazyhorse MFA Poetry Prize, has contributed at Sewanee Writers Conference, road-managed bands like Fu-Manchu, and appeared for Adult Swim in ‘Too Many Cooks’.