Many are Alyosha-like compassionate souls,
who can’t do enough to be of service to others.

A few seek to escape from nagging wives,
and crave the beer and bonding brotherhood
that’s available and Ladder Company #1.

Among men willing to risk their lives,
are often a few counter-phobic guys,
who need to prove they are not cowards after all.

When a house catches fire, their pagers beep,
and they race to the firehouse on a tear,
to clad the armour of protective gear.

Adrenalin flows with a tug on the air horn.
Flashing red lights, the clang of bells
and wail of a siren warn: “Get out of the way!”

The Captain orders: “Surround and drown!”

They scramble up ladders into a blazing house,
hoping they survive choking smoke,
without suffocating and passing out.

They listen for the faintest cry.

Singed in a wreath of flames, they stare death in the face
in blackened hallways, cellars with searing heat,
in acrid air redolent with burnt smells.

Even the stars are all charred.

A gas explosion blows a man up to heaven
before he’s been sanctified.

To save one life life, it is as if you have saved
the entire world.
Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St Leonia, N.J. 07605