See Tupelo Press to read the poems for March 5, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 5/Poems 5” and of course, to read my poem, Fire Polished / by John C. Mannone.
The backstory is as follows:
Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent, which is celebrated by many Christians, but arguably has its roots in Jewish traditions. For the next 40 days, it is a time of penitence, sacrifice, and reflection on The Christ. Ashes are highly symbolic convolving not only a reminder of physical mortality—ashes to ashes—but also of the spirit. It is regarded as a symbol of worthlessness, or even sin. But, just as the legend of the firebird, Phoenix, returning from death to new life from the ashes, so too is there an allusion to a rebirth because of the resurrection of The Christ. (For this reason the Phoenix has been adopted as a symbol in Early Christianity. Its color, a purple-red hue, is traditionally associated with royalty, but also with sacrifice and passion.)
The poem, “Fire Polished,” depicts figuratively such a transformation. The narrator is in despair by whatever wrong decisions he has made in life, and has come to a place to grieve, yet finds himself redeemed when there is true repentance.
The structure looks like this: 1 line, 4 couplets, 1 line, 4 couplets, 1 line but is predominantly a mixture of anapests and iambs, with uneven syllabic count (ranging from 6 to 12) but still works because of the much more uniform 3 or 4 stresses per line, but with the predominant lower stress in the first have and vice versa for the last half, which brings out the intensity of the unfolding drama.