A family that I read about
Lost everything acquired.
Their house, collections, photographs,
All vanished in a fire.

Thank God no one was injured,
But this fact can’t be erased—
Although the losses were just things,
Some cannot be replaced:

A child’s letter to his mom
When he was eight years old;
An antique wristwatch wedding gift,
None other like it sold.

In tragic times folks often claim
“All things can be supplanted.”
But anyone who’s been there knows
That statement gets recanted.

It feels just like a part of you
Is stolen clear away.
And you won’t get it back despite
What kindly people say.



Mr. Winick recently started writing poetry at nearly age 65, after ending a long legal career. He resides in Naperville, Illinois.

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17 Responses

  1. Thomas Lindsay

    I enjoyed Brother Russel’s Poem ” FIRE ”
    It’s hard to believe he’s a beginner,
    I guess that FIRE inside makes him a winner.

  2. Joe Tessitore

    I found this to be a good, solid poem, but had difficulty with the almost-rhyme of “acquired/fire”,
    which I think is more “almost” than it is “rhyme”.

    A fix might be to change the second line to
    Lost all they did acquire
    and the last to
    Now vanished in a fire.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      I think part of your objection, Mr. Tessitore, is that this type of near rhyme is resorted to so frequently: it’s facile. I think the bad taste such rhymes leave is diminished by the distance between the offending pair; or if there’s some imagination in the positioning, such as interior rhyme.
      Exact rhyme can also be routine, and so, similarly annoying. Do you know Tom Lehrer’s patter on the periodic table, set to the tune “A Modern Major General”? It’s point of brilliance lies in pulling out a stream of true but boring rhymes that set up a wonderful near rhyme at the end.

  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    The comment in the final 2 stanzas is to the point. Honesty demands we admit it.
    I can recall the horror I felt (perhaps a reader can supply a better word for the intensity of the emotion) when I learned in 1976 that the house I called home through my hs and college years (1962-1970) had just burned to the ground. My reaction had nothing to do with the thought of my having escaped the fire.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    How about horrified, dismayed & root-pruned all at once. I’m not sure there’s a word that covers all this. Sometimes “things” matter.

  5. Sally Cook

    The nearest I’ve ever come to this is to discover on an internet real estate site that my grandfather’s house, built in 1811, had suffered the indignity of having the original, 2 sided fireplace pulled out and an electric object inserted in its place. And that’s not all – the narrow stairs, also original, had been ripped away and a circular staircase put in their place.
    I can only imagine the horror of losing it all.
    Words mean things, but sometimes things are symbols worthy of being commemorated.

    • Russel Winick

      Sally, it’s a shame the current owner didn’t appreciate the vintage beauty of those features.

  6. Sarban Bhattacharya

    We have seen what happened in Portland, Minneapolis and Seattle. Russel Winick has captured the sombre pathos of reality in this beautiful lyrical poem. The irretrivable loss of relics and souvenirs, provokes pity and fear in the reader’s mind. The language of the poem is simple, lucid And free-flowing, and sets the tone from the very outset.

      • Sally Cook

        Well, my father appreciated it and kept it, together with its vintage wrought iron hardware on the doors until it was wrested away from him by avaricious relati

        ves. But I still recall the spark-filled fireplace, the sudden heat, the look of things by firelight; As you well know, these are things you don’t forget.

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Russel, your poem will resonate with many. I have lost possessions that are precious to me, and, even though I know “we can’t take them with us when we go”, that doesn’t stop the pain of losing the joy these tangible gifts bring. Thank you for putting that feeling into poetic and heartfelt words.


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