© 2023 . All rights reserved.

William Considine reads from Continent of Fire

When I began to read William Considine’s new book, Continent of Fire, I was immediately drawn to a poem early on called “Library and Book Sale.” It made me want to read more. It is about falling in love with books, discovering that all you need to know is there, and all you have to do is look. “Library and Book Sale” is also a premonition of what is to come. Like books on a shelf that were found and bought at different times, Continent of Fire, which is in five sections and spans a lifetime, offers a variety of poems about boyhood and adolescence; there are New York poems, covering the Wall Street area, Times Square, Gowanus, and Long Island City; poems about urban life, political history, along with current political fears and concerns. There are love poems. And poems that reflect the early Modernists and explore poetic forms like the sonnet and the ancient Chinese epic. Continent of Fire is not a big book physically, one hundred and fifteen pages, but the poems contain much much more.

Toward the end of the book there is a sonnet that ends:

…for weeks, months or more
as we shelter in place

in deadly pandemic quarantine.
Immune, flowers will flourish unseen.

This is an echo of Thomas Grave’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard,” a poem that a young book lover might easily find at the library or a book sale: 

…Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
and waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Reading Continent of Fire is all about discovery, seeing what you weren’t expecting to see—until the poet does—what you did not know was there, but there it is, beauty, understanding, thoughts and observations that are not wasted. I might put in a little disclaimer here because I’ve known William Considine a long while, and admire him as a writer, but what I also admire, and I want to mention, is that Bill attends many readings, and buys the books of poets. He is one of those rare wonders, a supporter of others. Continent of Fire was my subway read this week and I am happy to report that I enjoyed it thoroughly. In the Vimeo below, Bill reads from Continent of Fire. Listen if you like discovery. Enjoy.



I’ve typed out some poems from Continent of Fire below; there are nine in all, and the last four poems are, together, a record of the pandemic. There are many longer, layered poems in the book, but I’ve typed out some of the shorter ones here. Once I start, it is hard to stop, but honestly, if you want to read more, you’ll have to get the book.


We Migrants

I migrated from a mill town,
first to college, then New York,
never planning to return.

As the oldest of three boys,
I separated from my brothers,
left them, got out of town
and a troubled family.

Not that I’d been 
a protective older brother,
but leaving clinched it—
I was not.

Later, both my brothers migrated
West, to different states.
We were dispersed.

Rare phone calls
or, later, text message
holiday greetings
passed between us.


One River

One river’s a fiord.
One river’s an estuary.

Both swell with the ocean
and flow upstream.

The sea reaches to embrace
an island within them.

Waters caress, waters
pass by and return.

Sway, stay,
sway, stay.


City Walk

As if the city were an alien
place made of cement,
we stroll unyielding ground,
through constant shadows

of wall-to-wall structures.
Idling anxiety whirrs
at the pace of our companion
tons of hurtling traffic.

Where disjunction
shakes a sidewalk
with such spacial relations,
what are free associations?

As If

As if creation lives in a better place,
above politics of crime, lies, and greed,
I resent having to vent
in verse my outrage at the disgrace
that overwhelms our news feed.


Bread bakers,
bed breakers,

shocked in the V
of a bed just broken,
in close embrace agree,
though only laughter’s spoken:
…………Fallen so low!

The mattress may be steep,
but squeezed together so,
On we go!
On we go!
………..And drop into sleep.



In the short time we have, we have
to nod to cold winds, sway
and bend in storms, soak
up what falls.

Still, we hold firm in the earth
grow, unfurl, open.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Bright day at the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
to see magnolias bloom
while I can. And they are
coming into full bloom,
creamy yellow bulbs,
white stars bursting open,
as are a hillside of daffodils.

A big surprise is one cherry tree
in bold pink blossom,
while all around it,
others sprout just tight dark buds
on bare branches. This look,
this good long walk, will have to do
for weeks, months or more
as we shelter-in-place

in deadly pandemic quarantine.
Immune, flowers will flourish unseen.


Together Daily
Together daily, we’ve sipped then drunk love’s
Refreshing ecstasies like caffeinated
Green tea. We nestle, paired, ceramic doves
(Once all aflutter, till storms abated).
Wrapped in comforts, how big we become.
Cruel time, while leaving, still holds us here,
Embracing our time together. We’re from
The future, savoring now what stays dear.
Under Venus, surer than night’s brightest star.
We each take our turn at the wheel
On the highway in a fast-moving car,
Floor the gas and speed with spirit and zeal.
Our high beams pierce the darkening road.
We’re headed where even mountains erode.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Confined a year in a deadly pandemic,
Emerging from a cold, snowbound winter
Into brilliant sunlight, a steady wind,
I‘ve reserved a socially distanced walk
In the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

February’s lasting snowstorm slowed the spring.
No cherry tree blooms early this year.
Magnolia buds seem mere pussy willows.
Daffodil Hill has only sheaves of leaves,
Tipped with yellow daubs if you look closely.

But oh, crocus blooms in abundance,
Blanketing the berm abutting Flatbush
Avenue. Orange-tongued, purple, ground cover
Crocus is no solitary venture
Out into life. It’s nestled, teeming crowds!




Continent of Fire is published by Kelsay Books. You can check it out here:




William Considine. Photo by Heath Antonio.





Leave a Reply