When William suggested a “Heroes Proved” prompt, I knew it would prove highly inspirational.  I anticipated intense, compelling, moving poetry.  You did not disappoint.  Choosing one each to highlight was a huge challenge for William and me.  Thank you (all of you) for bringing your best work to our humble site week after week after week.  You are all just wonderful!


My pick for this week is Fire Tender,  by Damon Dean (SevenAcreSky).

Confession: my natural love is toward very short poems, and this piece spills well over my non-existent “margins.”  But honestly, it ended too soon.  I could have read page upon page of this warm and well-told story.  Damon seems to have an innate ability for penning stories that grab my heart and make me long to hear more.

“The old man,
watching me, waved back,
and with that smoky, gentle voice
he gestured, testified,
“Just keeping this fire warm.”
 “I see,” I said, “yes, you are.”
I really meant,
“You are my hero, sir,
though I don’t even know you.”

The stuff of heroes.  Makes me tear up every time I read it.

In my opinion, listening to Damon recite this piece in his own smoky, gentle, irresistible voice takes it to a whole new level:

FIRE TENDER by Damon Dean (SevenAcreSky)

I heard his gravelly voice across the draw,
the smell of burning wood and coffee
mixed on morning air.
The talk between him and two women
carried over
through bough-filtered sun
between my camp and theirs.
They were on number 31,
with tent, camper, fire.
I was alone in 20,
having built no fire for only one.

Two small children, grands perhaps,
they kept tight eyes on,
the parents I’m sure
having taken time away
on this long weekend
with Veteran’s Day.

I, with my cold-now coffee,
observed across the draw
his stumbling moves, his easing down
into faded folding chairs, his ambling out of the tent,
around, about the campsite,
with caution in his tending of the crackling pit.

Yesterday he’d fallen.
He had stumped a stick of firewood,
or the corner of a cot.
The older ladies
scrambled, helped him up.
“Just my weaker knee,” he’d said.
“I’m not hurt,” he’d said, “Just old.”

In deep warm smoky tones,
he gently kept the grands from going too far,
from throwing their ball into the fire,
from forgetting to put ‘yes sir’ in their replies
to his admonishments.

As they built a late breakfast,
his sisters (as I learned they were)
heard stories about brothers, fathers, mothers, aunts.
I am sure all heard before,
but in remembering and retelling,
he recounted faith, and love, and
a deep endearment to close held histories.

They often camped together, I am sure,
many times, around a fire, on crisp November days.
In all their talk, their reminiscing,
I could sense their hope
was much like mine–
but stronger.
Learn`ed hope,
not thin or new or young,
but hope brewed long
on fires of trial,
simmered on embers of hurt and struggle.

With each sip, I sensed,
they first raised the mug to Someone
camped about they could not see,
but nonetheless there.
Not so much a toast, as a prayer
for a blessing.

Between sips, of course,
silent ‘yes sirs’ in their replies.

I forced myself away
out of earshot of the stories,
needing a moment in the bathhouse.

I cut back thru to number 20,
returning, across the draw between us,
nearer, really, to 31.
I dared a simple wave,
a tentative smile,
a quiet risked “hello.”

The old man,
watching me, waved back,
and with that smoky, gentle voice
he gestured, testified,
“Just keeping this fire warm.”

“I see,” I said, “yes, you are.”
I really meant,
“You are my hero, sir,
though I don’t even know you.”

I wished,
how I wished I did.


A few weeks ago I vowed not to complain about how hard it is to select a bloom, inasmuch as so many good poems are submitted every week, both for the Sunday prompts and the Wednesday forms exercises. Well, I take that back, this week anyway. It was excruciatingly difficult to make a choice this week. Oddly enough, the one I finally selected wasn’t even posted on the Bloomings site but was linked to JACQUELINE CASEY’s own blog. This sonnet about a soldier about to step ashore at Normandy in 1944 has a classic feel in its meter but with some slight variations that suggest, for me anyway, the upsetting that wars have caused forever. Her lines capture what heroism means for people who never wanted to be heroes but just wanted to live, but who did their duty when called upon. The final line alludes to the terrible waste of it all: “hale and hearty such a little while.” All in all, I thought this was a magnificent work.


I see the beauty of his sober eyes.
At Omaha, it is his shining hour.
The camera has caught the scene at sunrise.
He’s standing in the moment of great power.
The ramp now opens; there’s the glint of dawn.
There is no turning back; no time to pause.
His choice is made and like a muscle torn
from out his heart, it is for raging cause.
“Oh, captain! I have done my duty now.
I’ve given you my soul and heart.
I’ve nothing more to offer or endow
as water takes my body, we depart.”
War cannot strip his beauty or heroic smile;
but hale and hearty such a little while.



As usual, it was a tricky matter choosing my Bloom for the Week. So much passion, emotion and beauty was planted right before my eyes (and fingertips).  Although it came down to four poems (you’ll have to guess which ones!), I decided this week to award my pick to Barbara Young for her ‘We Interpret in Accordance with Our Own Experience.”

So true. And as William said, it really was a tour de force. I love the way she used a parable to make her point, and this worked for me on so many levels.

We Interpret in Accordance with Our Own Experience by Barbara Young

In the parable of loaves and fishes
–because of my background–
I imagine Jesus
sharing out the sort of loaves and fish
I’ve always known: bream, goldfish, cat; bushels
of soft bread with big pores. And only the crust is brown
in the parable of loaves and fishes.
Because of my background
the fish is fried and salty and greasy and delicious
in the parable of loaves and fishes
until somebody off the side says I’m suspicious.
That’s my overabundance, and I’m taking it home.
That parable of loaves and fishes:
Need to check its background.


  1. Congratulations, everyone. And, in Monday Morning Quarterback mode, I readily concur. I’m glad the burden of tending this garden does not fall on me! 🙂

  2. Congratulations to the winners! Excellent choices! Damon, I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of your poem – we should definitely have the opportunity of hearing you more often … maybe even an “audio poetry” prompt someday 🙂

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