“August Night/Tacoma” by Daniel Person

You just

Lay the flame down

–Light like Apollo

On the flame-moon–

On the tobacco

Combustion reaches

To the roots

Of the bowl

In your palm

Fire breaths into the crook

Made by the joint

Of the turkey-thigh thumb

And the index.

Such a clear night for Tacoma

Vega beams down on me

Blue like she’s a planet

Which is why I know her name

Tricked once and twice

Into thinking she was Venus

–And took my phone out to confirm

With that app they have–

Only to find the celestial

Was blessing me that night

From a place infinitely far away

From a time I cannot comprehend


So yes I know Vega

And now I can see her

Now that the smoke is gone

–But for the smoke in my hand–

Wildfires in Canada

Wind in the Pacific

Blown here for a resting place

‘Til it disappeared like the air it is

Now that the smoke is gone I can see

Major constellations

Daniel Person is a journalist living in Tacoma. He has written for publications across the West, including Outside Online, Cowboys & Indians, and High Country News. His story about Blackfeet tribal members using traditional practices to address PTSD was recently featured in the anthology Montana: Warts and All. He is also the co-author of the forthcoming 26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest. Lastly, though his employer wouldn’t use that term, he is news editor at Seattle Weekly.