when we were children

and the 4th of July rolled around

in midsummer,

Our only fire works were sparklers

considered safe,

and something called “snakes”,

also considered harmless.

The snakes were little round black

pills. (Granted it didn’t take much

to amuse us) that an adult had to

light and  a long cylinder-shaped ash

grew out of the little pills.

When evening came,

we might go to a big park

where the spectacular fireworks


shot into the sky

amid wondrous

Ooohs and ahhhs

from everyone sitting on

blankets on the damp grass

or sometimes my father took

us all to a drive-in theatre

where fireworks would provide

entertainment during intermission

when it was dark enough.

I was an adult

living in California

before I ever knew

there could be other

kinds of fireworks;



roman candles


that the men and older boys

shot from the middle of the street

(illegal but easily purchased

across the border in Mexico.

but the finest display I have ever seen

was at the Hollywood bowl

where the pyrotechnics

were always accompanied by

the 1812 Overture

and when the display ended,

all the Bowl patrons


humming in unison

la la la la la la LA LA!

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