The Exhaled Phoenix: A Tribute to Ray Bradbury

by: Jason Wyman

Dearest Ray Bradbury,

We never met. We never will. That’s not exactly true. There was a dream once. It came to me in high school when, after spending the entire night reading Fahrenheit 451,  I fell asleep clutching the library book to my chest as a baby clutches their bankie. You were there, and it was as real as the burnt books of your imagined futures. I still feel their heat some 20 years later. The dream is as haunting as Montag burning his home blast by blast.

We never met and never will, which is not exactly true. You told me in my dream, the one of flames and smoke, to dream and write them as if they were real. You told me that stories will rise like the phoenix out of the ash of ideas combusted. You held my hand, tenderly. And then I woke.

We never met; we never will. This is not exactly true. It is you who lives in me who ignited my longing for stories, for flames, for beauty in horror. It is only upon your death that this dream revives, that this memory lives again. It is the exhaled phoenix of books yet dreamt.

Dearest Ray Bradbury, the one of distorted mirrors and manic merry-go-rounds, of Martian chronicles and dandelion wine, of slow unfoldings and hopeful dystopic futures, it is you that has inspired this humble writer of stories that end in ash to mark his body like your illustrated man.

Thank you dearest Ray Bradbury for all you have given, for the gift of voice, for the igniting of adolescent passion.



Jason Wyman is a life-long educator, writer, learner and performer. He finds spaces between things and then creates supports between them. He has helped professionalize youth development, created original theater, developed learning models based on peer exchange and shared expertise, written fables inspired by the darkness of fairy tales and fostered community rooted in social justice, creativity, and laughter. He lives in San Francisco with his beautiful husband and precocious cat. You can read more at  (Photo by Andreea Cănăvoiu)

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