Alain Ginsberg

Love Letter From A Fire To The One Who Started It



You never looked back at my light

except to tell me I wasn’t burning as bright

as you thought I should.


I’ve started taking to arson now as a way

of writing you into my life again, knowing

that it wasn’t the spark that kept you here

but the fuel that my flesh was singed,

the decay, the rot, the lies that gave

you power, knowing that you always

told me not to trust a burning man

as you bathed me in kerosene

and matchbooks.


Used to believe that cigarettes

were an homage to me, but I know it’s always on a bad day

that we like to pretend to be someone’s false idol,

and my friends tell me that forest fires are too

unnatural an explosion,

that flesh isn’t a natural explosion

even from 3000 miles away,

that it wasn’t that you wanted me to smile

sunflower seeds, but that you wanted me

to eat the sun when you were darkness,

that you never wanted to find me

in my own unlit nights, how

I was never visible in the dark.


You never looked back at my fires

even after they cauterized

the wounds on your back and

I stayed up past my bedtime

to sing you healthy

so when you asked me

what kind of bird you were

when I told you I was attracted

to bird people, it wasn’t my place to say

that it’s bird people that fly south

when things get too cold to keep

nests of scrap metal and used bandages;

I couldn’t offer you clean bandages.

I can’t offer myself clean bandages.

But you kept practicing not looking back

at explosions, even when it was my fires

even when we claimed

to carry each other’s torches.

They waited for you, even

when they went out.

Smoke signals in the dark always

looked like clouds to you.


You never looked back

after leaving our ground zero,

heard you say this place was

just another cemetery full of ghosts

pretending they were ever alive

for any reason but themselves.

The kindling in my hips

don’t shake embers anymore


and I don’t think fires remember

the trees they could’ve grown up to be.




My Grandfather’s Ghost-Parents Are The Elephant’s In The Room,


and we do not talk about,


I mean them,


anymore because to name


their ghosts would be to give it,


I mean, again, them, life


And that is no longer possible.




The appliances in the kitchen


have always been electric


so we don’t have to worry


about the smells: Rotting eggs


from faulty (wind) pipes,


two bodies baking




No one sleeps in the oven


Anymore. I am not allowed,


I mean, I can’t sleep in this house anymore.


Given, or was given, my great-grandfather’s dead


name, now my dead-name,


too big a haunting to live.




I walk into rooms odorless,


I am the natural gas that settled


into the seems of our genetics.




My body seeps into the carpet


and permeates.


The only one in my family to kill themselves


and still live.




They have a hard time breathing around me,


but everyone sleeps.


No one believes in my identity until it wakes them


up at night. They find my gender and put it


into the gas oven and leave


the light unlit.


Alain Ginsberg is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City, MD whose work focuses on narratives of gender, sexuality, and trauma. Their work is featured or forthcoming from Words Dance, great weather for Media, Black Heart Magazine, and elsewhere. Outside of poetry they are found deep beneath the soil, waiting to take root.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *