The Fire Rises

This is one of my favorite poem because it provides a perfect picture of my mental state at the time.  I’ve discussed the bullying and the depression, and here I lay out my inner turmoil.

This poem was written on March 30th, 2004. I was 13 and in eighth grade. I have kept the punctuation and capitalization as I wrote it that day.

The Fire Rises

The fire rises

Surrounding me on all sides

dreams and cries come from my mouth,

I do not hear,

People come to try and help,

yet I push them away,

I do no see,

The fire rises,

I know nothing,

It seems as if something is controlling me,

I can only watch in horror,

as the help I want is rejected,

The screams I cry kept silent,

The fire rises


it drowns the fire,

but the fire still rises in my heart,

and as I continue on,

The fire rises

There’s a lot going on here and it’s hard, even now, to explain it well. I think it’s easiest if I address each element separately.

The fire symbolizes my rising anger. See how it burns me? Anger was not an emotion I enjoyed but holding it close was the only way I had been able to survive the past four years. There is a moment I have yet to discuss on this blog, where I considered drastic measures to end my suffering. In this moment, a desperate part of me search for anything that would keep me alive. Anger and hate is what was discovered. Sure, I felt those things toward myself, but what I hated even more was the though of proving ‘them’ right (them being my peers and bullies).

So, I held on to my fire even as it burned me. In the midst of the agony, I managed to numb myself and ignore the damage I was doing to myself. At least I was alive.


This numbness cut me off further from socialization. I really felt trapped inside myself. Used to the daily routine, my body moved through the days, but I was somewhere else. I was lost inside myself in order to survive, but survival was quickly losing meaning.

I saved all my pain for the night. Having become an expert at the silent cry, I would rain all my anger into my pillow. At my worst, I estimate I cried myself to sleep about every other night. It turns out that I did a very poor job at numbing myself. Instead, I collected all my feelings within myself until I could hold no more. Two days were all I could take before I had to empty myself in preparation for more to come.

Here we are at the end, where the fire rises in my heart. I knew, when I reached this part of the poem, what was happening.  Every other night, I put out fires, but they were not ignited by peers or bullies. I ignited the fires with my own anger.

What is left unanswered here is the fix. How could I survive without anger? Was it even necessary to let go of anger? Would I ever find a way to harness the fires of my heart in a way that didn’t burn?


41 thoughts on “The Fire Rises”

  1. Anger is a part that needs release. hold it in is like a keg of gunpowder.
    And i had the holes in doors to proof it. So I bought a punching bag 😀

    Next to that I found out what angers me and keep breathing when it happens. When you can brush it off you just breath it away.

    But that is just this silly old crow talking. Who still has a monster chained inside him

    1. When it comes to anger (and/or the monster chained inside) I think understanding is key. We need to understand why we are angry and we need to understand how we can release it before it hurts us. I honestly think most negative emotions, like anger, fear and sadness, eat away at the soul if we hold them too long.

  2. I’m suprised to see that I’m not the only one having these problems in the age of 13. It were my so called best friends who bullied me. I quit the friendship, therefore lost a lot of my other friends as well, but found a way to show the world that I was different to them. And though I know the fire you wrote about I’m now happy about it, because without I wouldn’t be the selfconscious mr that I’m today – it took 7 years to get over it completly.

    1. I’m happy with my fire as well, now that I understand it. I would say my bullies sometimes tried to pretend to be my friends. For all I know, they actually thought they were being friendly. How am I to know?

      There are certainly aspects of myself I am happy with that grew because of the bullies, but I’ll never say it was worth it. No one should be made to feel like crap just for being who they are.

  3. “Anger is fear turned outward”. I think its fight or flight – natural instinct…you let it go when you don’t need it.

    1. You’re right, but if you find yourself in a situation where you have to hold on to it for a long time, it can be hard to let go.

  4. This poem is very good – there’s been times in my life where I have felt like this- where you have all this stuff trapped inside and you simply don’t know how to vent it, you just hold on to it and survive somehow, day by day.

  5. Wow TK, that was intense. Sounds like a tumultuous adolescence you had. Mine was no walk in the park either. Very rough indeed. However, I think I was a ‘don’t think about stuff and live in the moment trying to find pleasure’. That was only a way of being more and more self-destructive. I got to 17/18 years old and tried to hang on to my life by always looking to the next big event or good thing that was to happen in it. Adolescence and youth and truly difficult times indeed.
    Thanks for sharing.:-)

    1. Yeah, those years were hard and, I think, unnecessarily so. I wish we could get rid of the idea that the ‘depressed teenager’ is 100% normal. I had enough friends who were cutters and saw enough suicides and suicide attempts to know that every teenagers depression is not ‘normal.’

      1. Intense. Yea, you have a point. It could very well be possible that too many people think that depression during the teens is absolutely normal. My hubby’s cousin just recently committed suicide. Really sad actually. he wasn’t a teenager, but he was quite young. Early 20s and fed up with life.

  6. enjoyed your poem and identified with it. also, your interpretation of it rang some strong bells of what i’m going through presently. there is something I’ve always known since a teen in that I was sensitive. I’ve since discovered that i’m a highly sensitive person. everything I read in regards to that fits me to a tee. one can also check highly sensitive personality. it wouldn’t hurt to check that out. it’s possible there could be some connections you might identify with. after all most creative writers are sensitive.

    1. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was a little sensitive. Maybe that sensitivity is what drives writers crazy (because I’ve never met a writer who was completely sane, myself included)

  7. I love the way “the fire rises” keeps coming back, like a chant, or a chorus. Three of the four elements can kill you. Earth can bury you, water can drown you, fire can incinerate you. (Not sure about air — it can probably kill you too, but at the moment I can’t think how.) But you can channel them and use them. Fire can burn your house down. It can also light the way. Learning how to use it — well, I’m still learning!

    1. I like that relation to the elements. Whatever is at your disposal has as much potential to help as to harm. I imagine air can suffocate you. At least, that’s what comes to mind.

      1. While out walking with my dog just now it came to me that wind is air, and wind can spread fires, make high tides higher, blow trees down . . . and also turn windmills, and dry my clothes when they’re hanging on the line.

  8. I have always had a lot of anger inside. I’ve gone to therapy and tried other therapeutic things and nothing has really worked for me. I usually call myself a volcano just waiting to explode, because that’s really how I am. It’s painful to think of myself like tgat, but I just have to face the truth. I’m usually happy on a good day, but wen I have my bad days, they are complete hell.
    In regards to bullies, it is hard to face the fact that I think we have all been in both places: as a perpetrator and a victim. I never wanted to think of myself as a bully, but i realize that a lot of things I said to my so-called friends were just cruel.
    Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I would urge you to keep looking. I’m sure there is a therapy for everyone. I wrote to get a lot of my sadness out, but I used music for anger. There was a specific melody I would listen to. The music had a sort of heart beat to it. I would try and time my breathing to that beat. That particular beat would move in and out of the melody, so it was like a test. If I could keep my breathing in sync even when the beat was gone, I knew I was calm. Sometimes, I would sit there with the melody on repeat just to keep reinforcing the calm. It’s hard to understand yourself when your angry, just like it’s hard to understand someone who is yelling. If you can get yourself into a calm state and say there, you can ask the question that might reveal the true triggers of anger. I should note that it took years of doing this to reach anything close to a good understanding myself.

  9. keeping in Anger is like maintaining a constant weight on your chest. the best thing to do is let go. just let it all go and live free. the author is amazingly right: its like fire, it burns.!

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