In days of old, like days of now,
the lords of land and sky and hearth
broke the plowman to the plow
and shook the bones inside the earth.
The people bowed and wept and moaned—
they had no strength; obey they must.
Yet frost expands inside the stone
and breaks the mountain into dust.
The rising sea will wash the rot
from what the gods struck down and slew,
and fire in the hills is hot
enough to burn an old world new.
Even beneath a blood-red sky,
we know this much: All giants die.
This is a piece I wrote on September 10, 2020, when the wildfires in the Western states were at their absolute worst. I wrote it for my writers' group, of which I've been a member for more than a decade now. We mostly write poetry, which is why I have so much poetry posted here on my blog... and over the years, I've found that nothing has helped me more as a prose writer than my regular and careful study of poetry. I write at least one poem every week to share with my group, who are always incisive and thoughtful with their critiques. I don't know if I'll ever publish a collection of poetry, but I do know that participating in a poetry-writing group has been such a benefit to my overall career.
For the week when I wrote Ragnarok 2.0, we were focusing on structure. All of us had to produce a sonnet, and this is a sonnet, though its dark imagery runs counter to traditions of the form. Sonnets usually celebrate love and other positive emotions, but that week I didn't have many positive thoughts about anything!