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Rated: 18+ · Poetry · Contest Entry · #2047740
Day Four Image Prompt - The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
City Incinerated


The sun had gone down after a bustling day,
breezes blew in on the dry autumn night.
Street lamps were lit, children tucked in to stay.
Storefronts closed shop, unaware of looming plight.

Carriages rolled down each quiet cobblestone street.
Couples hurried home after a late evening meal.
Water lapped gently where the lake and pier meet.
The city ignorant to what one lantern would steal.

It was the first week of October, Chicago, 1871.
In the heart of the city stood the O'Leary farm.
Where a forgotten light would soon see the city undone,
before the officials could sound the alarm.

In the barn the lamp tipped and spilled through the straw,
catching fire quickly that licked up the walls.
Some claimed a cow caused what they saw,
others say a game of cards knocked it over the stalls

The flames quickly spread due to months without rain,
devouring buildings with stunning power and speed.
The wind was no help, propelling the fire to each lane,
onward it grew with no hinder nor heed.

The inferno moved south where the river couldn't quench it;
blowing sparks and debris caught both banks ablaze.
The lumber, coal yards, and warehouses were lit.
The skyline choked in a black smoky haze.

The water-works building was not immune to the heat,
and the stores of water there soon all went dry.
Firefighters tried, but the raging fires couldn't be beat,
the battle went on as dawn crested the sky.

The courthouse bell fell, heard a mile away.
Two days went by before the rain finally came.
The fire burned out slowly, eventually ending the fray.
Charred, smoking husk of a city; never quite the same.

Over three miles of buildings and three hundred people were lost.
But the spirit and heart of Chicago would rise once more.
Having learned the folly of what wooden structures could cost,
would become the Great City on the Lake Michigan shore.


Word Count: 324
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