After the Griffith Park Fire

We hiked into the park where the fire still smoldered.
Twilight. Off of Shannon, behind the Golf Course.
The ground was white. Covered in ash.
Some of the trees twisted one way, and were burnt bare,
Then twisted back the other way-
The immense heat rotating their trunks when
It changed direction with the wind.
There was this noise, agitated, animalistic.
Birds I thought at first, the sound competing
With the rancid smell of chemical fire retardant.
It kept getting louder, each new step, louder, enough
So that we had to raise our voices to hear each other.
Then, it was all around us, burping in the night,
Panicked, but alive. They were everywhere.

About the Author: Hank Cherry is a documentary filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles. He is married with two rescued pitbulls. Has been a featured reader at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, as well as a finalist for the PEN/USA Rosenthal Fellowship. He has a regular column on the history of jazz in Offbeat magazine and blogs about music and and books at His work has appeared in Cadillac Cicatrix, Southwestern American Literature, Atlas Bower Review, Slake Magazine, The Louisiana Review, Artillery Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.