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Julie A. Sellers

Out of Smoke
A Golden Shovel Poem after William Stafford’s “Smoke”

Fire and wind engrave the earth with their mark wherever
they meet on the plains in their smoldering dance, and you,
watching the flames race and the black blanket creep, are
helpless to alter the path of its fiery course. There
is no dam for the sweep of the elements. What is
written remains. Yet, deep below the scorched land, another
poem of hope pushes out of smoke and char to open a green door.

Source & Method

“Out of Smoke” is a Golden Shovel Poem inspired by a line from William Stafford’s “Smoke.” Like Stafford, I was born and raised in Kansas, and I shaped my poem around the image of smoke, controlled pasture burning, and new beginnings as represented by “another door.” Stafford published “Smoke” in Three River’s Poetry Journal (1978), and the book Smoke’s Way (1978). I discovered my copy of the poem in Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems, William Stafford (Graywolf Press, 2014).

Julie A. Sellers was the Kansas Authors Club’s 2020 Prose Writer of the Year. She is the author of  Kindred Verse: Poems Inspired by Anne of Green Gables (2021).

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Issue 27