out country, a modified 55-gallon open head drum

is good as a crematoria for burning clean & efficient—

make sure to pick a spot downwind, without the secretive boughs

& branches of trees draping down. double check for combustibles.

remember you are combustible, so stand back when you feed the flame.

it’s unnecessary for you to dig up the sod beneath the barrel.

like you’ve done with your body. trowel out

the living green & fill it in with sand instead. where nothing grows,

nothing burns. when assembling your burn barrel,

you’ll need air holes for meager breathing. while it’s true—

you could just use a drill—you might as well use a handgun

& practice protecting yourself.

shoot out the bottom of the drum for rainwater to run through.

shoot out the sides to let the fire suck in air.

like deciding to uncross your knees, take care not to drill too many holes,

lest your barrel fail, or rust out too quickly. if you follow these steps

you can set it up on cinder blocks like your Daddy’s jacked-up Ford,

create an airflow & drainage ditch below. learn what can be burned.

build cleaner fires with less smoke. refashion yourself

into something clean & less—become a grate, a burn cover, become hardware cloth & trap hot cinders in

your mouth. limit the risk of combustion. just swallow everything down.

stay dry—you’ll burn easier. risk less rust.

your momma tells you, Learn what can be burned, & teaches you

how to spell your name. she knocks you into the dirt

when you take it to your Daddy & ask him, What can I burn in a barrel?

your home. your family. produce. trash. the efficiency of all your fires

begins in the kitchen—compost all the living squeamish bits, everything

not quite dead yet. fill your mouth with food scraps & yard trimmings—when worms spill over your lips, let

that be a learning lesson.

wait for a calm day. a windless day.

wait out the fire bans. remember what

a 55-gallon open head modified drum is good for. burn clean & efficient,

downwind of where your parents sleep.

fill yourself with sand.

poke holes in your story.

paint over the rust.

become, yourself, a crematoria.

leave nothing but hot ash in your wake.

Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer holding degrees from both Antioch University of Los Angeles & New College of Florida. She has published a number of chapbooks, including Pictures from the Center of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize) and Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press, finalist for the SFPA’s Elgin Award) In addition to her work on the page, Allie was a member of Oakland’s 2017 National Slam Team. A native Floridian now freezing to death in the Bay Area, Allie writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Find her online: www.alliemarini.com  | Twitter

What would you burn in a barrel? Tell us in the comments.

Image Credit: Flickr

Help us disrupt the Southern literary landscape.