Twenty Years Outdated

Carrie Jones
2 min readJun 13, 2022

a poem

These firefighters show up at a hotel fire, maybe
Started in the laundry room during the off season, hoses
Frozen from winter temperatures, ice across roads;
The crumbling structure is about to fall, flames shooting out windows.

In our small town, three-hundred people
Are listening to the scanner because we can’t be there,
But our family and friends battle, wearing air
Compressors and safety equipment from 2002.

Twenty years outdated.

Other poets write about grief and hand holding,
The ache of winter trees bending with wind,
Charleston’s harbor, celebrations and tiny pains.
I sit here, listening, ineffective, useless.

I once fought fire. Nobody believes that
Though I have photographic evidence. I even
Used to dispatch emergency calls, take fists to the face,
Witness hate and rage that never made the scanner.

Twenty years outdated.

The firefighters work so hard to save that building,
But the roof collapses, only the foundation remains.
The thing is that building has burnt before. Twice.

They keep reconstructing it though, refusing to admit defeat,
Vaguely rethinking the design. After a couple months
Nobody even remembers what it was before.

When I was little, I used to dance, even got paid
For it. Nobody believes that either. Or that I reported sports
Taught gymnastics, was even a church secretary. I don’t fit
Any of those notions people have of who I should be.

Twenty years outdated.

Sometimes we rebuild only after everything has collapsed,
After burning walls fall outward to the snowy ground. Sometimes
There are witnesses. Sometimes there is only lonely horror as our structures crumble.

To hear me read the poem myself (SCARY!) click here.

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The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called “A Feather” and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

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Carrie Jones

Internationally & New York Times bestselling novelist. Writing tips. Podcasts. Poems. Psych stuff.