Footage on 122nd Street in Harlem

From its crane arm, the massive klieg lamp cast
a notice to the church's tile roof.
The brownstone block with its plywood eyelids
is barricaded and light invaded
as the camera crew calls for "fire!"
Fake police lights whorl,
fire clouds blow out a high window
of the corner church turned bauble.

This is fine filming until the glow billows
and the flame migrates onto a fake fire truck,
then swirls at the refreshment van,
cheery sighs running in the hotchpotch
crowd and the block a black badge
of purling smoke on the city's chest.
Playing becomes a problem within a problem.

So the real police arrive. Pumping, fire trucks
plug into hydrants. The fake newsmen are reported,
and a real ambulance driven by a flustered-faced man
crawls through the props to reach the silver stage.
A sight for sight in sight. Accrescent screens
reflect screens, and the emergency lights form
an undergrowth of Aldis lamps blinking
short short short . . . long long long . . . short short short,
as soot fiends dance, flame arm in flame arm.