In the early hours of Oct. 9 last year, poet Ed Coletti and his wife, Joyce, were among the thousands who fled their home from the firestorm.
The Colettis escaped with their lives, but lost their home and possessions to the Tubbs fire. It's an experience Coletti will never forget, and one he revisits in his new poetry chapbook,
Firestorm, self-published on his longtime imprint, Round Barn Press.
"We were so traumatized, and poetry gave me a way to express the things that I hadn't quite worked out yet, and still haven't," Coletti says.
In Firestorm, Coletti reflects on the terror of those early hours while also recounting the support of his family, friends and the community that helped him move forward, including purchasing a new home in May.
Here is an excerpt:
'When Random Sharks Attack'
When a frenzy of orange threshers
battle-sharpened yellow teeth ablaze
rushes to take your home
nothing can prepare you for the carnage
Denial an oh so temporary refuge
briefly houses your future plans and hopes
It too is overtaken by voracious marauders
I speak as one consumed
I dream of a huge red bear
I am empty sad feel worthless
I don't know what to do be still or fight
Luck had saved me up 'til the present
I'm watching scores of rock doves swoop
these Oakland hills evade the stoop of circling
red tail hawks eye level with our refuge from
the fire of that black senses-deadened infant
morning's blind-eyed rush sans a single dorsal fin
to warn or woo while now and here in hills
across the Bay awake to strangeness:
curse of phantom pain we know but still
we want the easy comfort of our house
the sense of going home to what we know
to what we together purchased once we married
I seek a new thesaurus to explain things
Here in space where furniture doesn't fit me
in and out of my body feeling freaky
If it's true that attachment equaled suffering
I've been shoved on to the road of enlightenment
all too quickly here in a region known as Purgatory
atoning for my sin of routine comfort
We almost died
We did not die
We lost a house
And all possessions
Much more remains
In the rubble of our pain
The innocence of sharks
very much maligned
Ed Coletti reads from 'Firestorm', Sept. 29, at SOCO Coffee, 1015 4th St., Santa Rosa. 4:30pm. Free. 707.527.6434.