Thinking, writing, thinking about writing…

A Fire Is Like a Ship

Pin-straight it preens,

jutting its prow forward.

Its sails frolic on high,

light dancing up and up in the wind.

At first it seemed a comfort, but now I know

it’s a sick man

grunting and heaving

with the rattle of rusty anchors.

He flaps and heaves,

his mouth a spitting blackness of half-chewed tobacco.

Barefoot we scurry in panic downstairs,

slip on lime-scrubbed floorboards.

Narrow and long, it chases us, seeking

to seal us into its coffin shape.

Over at dVerse Poets Pub, the utterly charming and always inspiring Anna is encouraging us to use unusual metaphors and create a poetic conceit.

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21 thoughts on “A Fire Is Like a Ship

  1. Wonderful and scary conceit.. loved when you turned it from the comfort of the ship to the tobacco chewing man…

  2. Marina Sofia – Such wonderful imagery! And you really take the reader along as you ratchet up the tension. Well done

    • I was thinking of the book ‘The Fire Engine That Disappeared’ in the Martin Beck series as I wrote that, actually. An impeccable description of the sudden ferocity of a house fire.

  3. geez….that one got my heart going just a bit…made me think back to getting in trouble when i was a kid…ha..never could outrun the switch….def a nice contrast in the change of feel in this…

  4. oh my goodness… how places of comfort can change their face so quickly… a little storm… and what we thought was heaven becomes a grave… love what you did with this

    • I’ve seen fires flare up like that out of nothing – it’s a strange, unpredictable element which scares me a bit. Or make that quite a lot. While water feels familiar and cocooning.

  5. Nice. Very apt comparison of a fire and a ship. The images in the beginning were perfectly crafted. And the shift in the latter part was well done. :-)

    • Thank you. I was trying to find polar opposites – fire and water. But it was hard to build a metaphor around that, so the timber-framed pirate ship popped into my head.

  6. a double conceit! fire to ship to man. :)

  7. Shiver. Shudder. And I’m so glad I did more wildland than structural fires when I was in the fire service. This is very good.

    • You were in the fire service? Wow, you must have quite a few stories to tell. But yes, I can imagine house fires are traumatic in a different way from forest fires.

      • Yep I was, for 7 years, and an officer too! Wildland fires are so different than house fires – and yeah there are some wild stories to tell. :-)

  8. From beauty to terror in so few words. Clever.

    • It started out as a writing exercise – try to compare 2 very dissimilar objects. Sometimes these writing prompts really force us to see things in a new way, don’t they?

  9. Flaming sails and how quickly they turn from mesmerizing to terrifying. Beautiful imagery and I agree very clever metaphor!

  10. Scary and wonderful imagery.

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