Naughty John and the Fire

entry picture

Naughty John struck a match or two,

Carelessly tossing them away,

Nothing much happened then,

But slowly throughout that day


One match smouldered in the litter,

That lay about the shed,

A tiny fire burst forth

When the family went to bed


Fire lept about in the litter,

Then the rabbit's bale of straw,

A cobwebbed bristled paintbrush,

Some wood shavings on the floor


A soaked rag of turpentine

some half-empty mildewed tins

Of dried-up paint and creosote,

Flames then danced inside the bins.


No longer creeping slowly,

It became a raging fire

It crackled as it spread

higher still, then higher.


The petrol in the big red can,

Exploded with a boom,

The calm night was shattered,

as smoke rose in a plume.


A massive ball of burning,

quickly sped across the grass,

Scalding the white lawn daisies black,

Scorching the pond to glass,


The fire was now out of control.

But luckily, far across the town,

The fire station bells rang out,

Sleepy firemen scrambled down.


Still unaware inside their house,

The smoke began entering in

It crept first under the cellar door

As Milo the dog snored sleeping


Terrified, he leapt the gate,

Whined, then he loudly barked

While in through open first-floor windows,

floated hundreds of hot, fiery sparks.

Up jumped little Jackie,

Who then awakened her brother John,

They both grabbed their slippers

as they put their dressing gowns on.


Father ran to telephone for help,

And fell headlong down the stairs

Mum rushed to collect baby Jill,

And Jill's favourite teddy bears


Back they ran up to the landing,

This time father fell up the stairs.

He tried to phone for help again,

As mother said her prayers,


she gathered all her children close,

Dad thought about knotting sheets,

They heard the crack crack crack of flames

as the rafters creaked with heat.


Sparks and sparkles stung their eyes,

It was then that they heard the bells,

Flames jumped higher and Jackie said,

"I really don't feel very well."


In the window at the top of the stairs

There appeared a welcoming sight,

A fireman in a shiny helmet said,

"I've got a ladder here, alright?"


The ladder was tall and steady.

Each of them clambered down the wall,

Jackie struggle awkwardly,

She almost seemed to fall.


John swallowed many gulps of smoke,

But wouldn’t cough just in case

The big ladder jerked and jolted,

throwing him off and into space.


Everyone praised Milo

For raising the alarm

His barking made sure the family

Didn't come to any harm


"The insurance should hopefully pay,"

Father said "I would love a cup of tea,"

"But how did this fire get started?"

"Now that's what puzzles me."


The fireman said "You're quite lucky "

"It started in your garden shed."

"Do you know anything?" Dad quizzed John

John shrugged as he shook his head.

◄ The Minder

Anxiety ►


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Russell Jacklin

Fri 18th Nov 2022 12:41

Thank you for your comments, this is a fictional story, I was trying to create a childrens picture book story but even after doing a course with Julia Donaldson I still cant get the dum de dum de dum rythm right, so it became a poem

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John Botterill

Fri 18th Nov 2022 11:50

A cracking narrative, JD. It sizzles and burns and rings true!

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Stephen Gospage

Thu 17th Nov 2022 21:27

Quite a tale, JD., sharply written. Pleased that it turned out more or less OK. A guilty secret, I suppose.

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