Ignis Fatuus
by Paul m. Strohm

The school bus driver is not a fool,
he knows me like one of his own kids.
I don’t really want to go home, I say
“Thank you,” my exit having slowed.
Stepping down onto the sidewalk,
I begin to search out the safest path.
The lady next door shouts a warning,
her red cross armband in plain view.
A squad of sparrows twit out an SOS,
as I begin to come under enemy fire.
“Stop dawdling,” explodes very close,
another barrage follows, “Hurry up!”
My school bags have caught on fire,
burning homework ash floats away.
“Clumsy child,” knocks me down,
Everywhere the sound of battle rages,
smoke clouds encircle all combatants.
Barely conscious I am stretched away.
My burns will heal, but not the scars,
childhood’s ignis fatuus is not forgotten.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Out of the Darkness” by Betty LaRue. Prints available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul m. Strohm is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND, and other literary outlets. His first collection of poems entitled Closed On Sunday was published 2014 by the Wellhead Press. He worked at the Humanities Research Center at UT-Austin cataloging the correspondence of D.H. Lawrence. If he had to count the number of times D. H. wrote that imaginative line, “ Dear ____. How are you?” he would never read Lady Chatterley’s Lover again.