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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Struck; Pass The Flame

By: John Paul Caponigro


Reopen a forest in its tomb to

pinch a blood-dipped stick then

raise it up high,

cock it with wrist,

thrust it downward,

caress it on a bed of glass.

Feel friction drag a scraping sound from the casket,

bring forth the first spark, and

listen to it hiss.

Anticipate fulminating flame,

guard against its guttering utterances,

clutch this burning wood as long as you can.

Air will fail,

light will die,

heat will pass.

Treasure each

momentary gap

when nothing seems to change.

Fume coils, sways, sputters, shrinks, and dissipates, while

wicked white columns disappear from the bottom up, but

infernal smells persist.

Repeat until your fingers are empty, as

darkness descends, try to hear something

beyond the roar of blood in your ears.

Pass The Flame

When your world grows dim, pass the flame

candle to candle,


A little illumination

even a spark

can undo what’s dark.

You were born into brigades of unburning flames.

Don’t break these

blazing chains.

Never think that you’ll be extinguished

by kindling others. You’ll lose nothing and gain more

when you pass yourself forward.

You’ll find your truest gifts

by giving. You live

in an infinite web

of brilliance, your one glowing strand

connected to all others.


John Paul Caponigro is an internationally collected visual artist and published author. He leads unique adventures in the wildest places on earth to help participants creatively make deeper connections with nature and themselves. View his TEDx and Google talks at


I was thinking about how forests turn into matches, a small bed box of sticks, in some ways like a coffin, and how if just one of those tiny things is set on fire, in the right circumstances, it could burn an entire forest. I stuck close to the simple act of striking a match.

Pass The Flame:

Jazz pianist Keith Jarret said you something to the effect that if you want to court the fire you have to risk getting burned. Inspiration is contagious. I hope my art throws off sparks that other people catch and fan into their own flames."


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