Long Before the Present Conflagration



Long before the present fires that are decimating the vineyards and homes in Sonoma County, California, another fire destroyed the newly completed Wolf House, intended home of American writer Jack Lond and his wife.   I visited the ruins in 1996 and wrote this poem:


Jack London’s House Warming


Wolf House lurks alone

Like a Mayan temple

In the forest of the Valley of the Moon,

Waiting for Jack London

To host his first party there.

At midnight,

The owl ride the rafters

For shadowy mice

Who run the rough boulders.

Deer pick their way to the tender grass

That grows in the empty swimming pool.

Wolves reclaim the ballroom.


Remains from the inferno,

Brown boulders, volcanic rock,

Rough hewn and heavy,

Miss the tree torsos

That walled them

That joined them.

All the tiles gone, all the redwoods gone,

Succumbed to the lust of the

Wedding night of the house,

Fire reaching its arms out,

Flames embracing,

Smoke whispering its name

In the calm August midnight,

flames that waited all their lives

For such a feast.


swimming pool wolf house

 Jack London's Wolf House

from “The Wolf House “– Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen , California:

“The Wolf House was to become the London’s home, Jack’s workshop, Charmian’s tower, and an oversized cabinet of curiosities filled with the London’s unique collection from their world travels.

“Albert Farr of San Francisco designed the house and construction began in 1910. The dream home was nearly completed in August 1913 when it burnt to the ground. In 1995, a team of forensic experts concluded that the cause of the fire was likely due to a pile of oil-soaked rags, left by workers, spontaneously combusting.”



<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/succumb/”>Succumb</a&gt;



Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

One thought on “Long Before the Present Conflagration

  1. Nice photos, I’d love to see more with descriptions of what I’m looking at that. I like this sort of ‘thing’. It’s such a sad thing – all that time and effort, gone. Nice poem also, it conveys a lot of feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

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