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Battling The Beast

Wearing blue coveralls, they sit
sometimes for days, laughing,
eating, joking... waiting
for one sound, a siren
that transforms them.
They abandon their armchairs for overcoats
of canvas and for rubber boots,
their armor heavy and hot.
Instead of trading jokes they relay
directions, and orders, and shout
reports of the status of the enemy --
Fear and excitement grip the hearts
of the freshest rookie to the oldest veteran
as they jump into their steel Trojan Horses
perfect from polishing,
washing, checking over and over --
they pray that they have made no mistakes.
The driver navigates
the craft through the city streets
he knows as well as his family,
dodging when possible those
that get into the way, hoping those
he can't avoid will see him first,
they spot the enemy from blocks away --
the Phoenix rises far above the trees,
licking the sky.
They arrive at the scene, and again
the battle cry is heard --
Smoke fills the air and their lungs
as they approach, hoses snaking,
crisscrossing, coming to life
as they surge with water
from yellow and red hydrants
that suddenly become grotesque
heads of Medusa.
They kick open the doors, rubber
from their boots leaving a print
melted by the heat, and trickling
over bubbling paint.
Orange liquid flames roll
through the building, slithering
up and over the walls, breathing
in and out with each puff of air.
With swords of water they charge
and the war begins.
They battle -- nine or ten against one --
seemingly great odds.
But the nine soldiers will win,
emerging from the battlefield victorious
as they always do, and eventually,
they'll retire to their armchairs,
thanking God that this time nobody
was hit by the enemy - "Fire".

Author Unknown