Anderson Creek Creed — By Roy Beckemeyer

You did not believe that red cedars could

transform themselves explosively into flame:

an earthly form of transubstantiation


(“Forgive me, Father,” you say, as you think

that thought); that you would cut fences, praying

your cattle might outrun the torrent of fire,

that your truck’s headlights would flare like

molten lava, that flames would jeté

over roads, over dozer-scraped pasture,


that fickle winds would conspire to find new fuel

for fire, that you would find haven at last in new

winter wheat, slight and green and beneath the flame’s


fierce notice, fenced by walls of black smoke, by

skeletal trees clutching at the sky for relief,

by stars gone dizzy with hot air and soot,


that God would wait until your faith began

to smolder, to crisp around its edges,

before finally bestowing the benison of rain.

~ Roy J. Beckemeyer

—The Anderson Creek wildfire burned nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma in March, 2016.

Roy J. Beckemeyer was President of the Kansas Authors Club from 2016-2017. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was recognized as a Kansas Notable Book. His new chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Amanuensis Angel, is out from Spartan Press (2018).

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.


8 thoughts on “Anderson Creek Creed — By Roy Beckemeyer

  1. Roy, this is a wonderful poem! Love the descriptions. Can almost smell the smoke and see the flames.

  2. I would love to include this poem at my blog but will not do so without the poet’s consent. You may view the blog at to determine whether this is a site whose readers you would like to have read your poem. “My homesteader” from the late 1800s wrote in his journal often about prairie fires, and your poem would relate so perfectly and beautifully.

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