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Ode to Fire, Ode to Heat
David Budbill



Half my wintertime life, or so it seems,
I spend standing beside our old Round
Oak stove—which stands at the center
of our house—hands behind my back,
resting on my butt, palms out, warmth
of the fire in the woodstove working its
way into my body. Then turn around and
bake the other side. Too hot? Just move
a step or two away. It’s so simple, easy.
And all you’ve got to do is work all year,
sweat and heave and groan
to make this little moment happen.
Oh, now I sing praises to a wood fire,
to the heat this smoky burning liberates,
the heat that keeps us warm all winter.
Oh, praise this primordial fire, praise heat
in its most basic form:
the blessed warmth that comes from
our old, wood burning, Round Oak stove.

From Happy Life, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2011
Used here with the author's permission.


David Budbill (1940 - 2016) was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a streetcar driver and a minister's daughter. A track star in high school, he worked at a variety of jobs, with a particular interest in social justice and the great outdoors. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in philosophy and art history and a master's in divinity, David turned his focus to words. In the course of his career, he wrote eight books of poetry, seven plays, two novels, two books for children, a collection of short stories, dozens of essays, and the libretto for an opera. He also collaborated frequently with avant-garde jazz legend William Parker. A one-time commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, David received numerous awards for his work, much of which was inspired by the years he spent living in rural Vermont. Learn more about him at




Post New Comment:
Larry Schug:
We've been heating our house with a wood stove for four decades, thus I say to David's poem, "Right on!" Truth spoken beautifully.
Posted 02/20/2015 07:31 AM

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