Tag Archives: weather

The Undertow

Halfway up to Shreveport
driving to outrun the storm
I knew somehow there’d be no going back.
There was no sign yet of water
and the breeze was soft and warm
but the skyline in the rearview mirror was black.
We had a hunch that morning we should go;
thinking that we’d just be gone a day or so.

We spent all day Monday
with an eye on the TV,
watching as the worst seemed to go by.
Listening to the talking heads
outside on Bourbon Street
who kept the cameras pointed at the sky.
But when we heard the levees busted through
we didn’t need a photograph, we knew

All those years of living were a span of borrowed time,
and it really doesn’t matter which was yours and which was mine.
It don’t make no difference where you want to lay the blame
’cause the score ends up with both sides at zero
if you don’t watch the undertow.

We drove back to Natchitoches
to sleep at a hotel,
the lobby filled with countless refugees,
each one of us in limbo
under some strange kind of spell
thinking life should offer up some guarantee.
But it never really happens quite that way;
all you really ever have is just today.

And the headlines in the paper
went from bad to even worse:
seems the uglier, the more it lingered on.
With the worst part the denial
from those safe and dryly perched
that the place we thought was home was really gone.
It took a while before the truth sunk in:
that we had no choice but to begin again.

All your years of living are a span of borrowed time,
and it really doesn’t matter what is yours and which is mine.
It don’t make no difference where you want to lay the blame
’cause what’s up ends up in pieces down below
if you don’t watch the undertow.

28 APR 2006

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The Storms We Name: an acrostic

H elpless in the laughing face of elemental change
u nloosed as a pointed reminder that we each exist –
r eally, at the mercy of the Mother’s loving hands, the
r ight extending blessing, while the left removes our veiled
i llusions of reality. When humans pause and
c ontemplate their permanence beyond wild theories
a nd religious dogma it really comes to this:
n othing last forever except
e nergy, which we can only borrow for a while.

K ept too long, without knowledge of its purpose, it
a trophies, or seeks to be released; we see this shift as
t rauma, without sensing the balance that is
r ighted by a ruthlessness that makes our lives seem
i nconsequential, even meaningless, when compared to
n ature’s awesome bent for self-renewal
a nd will for preservation of the whole.

09 OCT 2005

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What Remains is Greater

It matters not how much the wind may blow,
nor if the seas should rise up through the floor;
the anchor of my craft is sunk below,
and I am to this spot moored evermore.

Should this fierce season flail its storms at me
and seek to wrest my hold from this small spot,
to face the torrent is my destiny;
what comes, if good or bad, shall be my lot.

‘Tis not an act of courage, or last stand,
but simply put, I’ve realized to run
is just as futile; what good are new plans
that rest on such foundations? I’ve begun

to realize the import of a place:
it rests not in its grand design or sport,
but rather in the nature of its space,
that finds in such small things such great import.

What if the ship is wretched loose from its chain,
its timber torn asunder in the fray?
Despite the great destruction, what remains
is greater than what’s lost. And so, I stay.

27 AUG 2005

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Spring Cleaning

Today spring cleaning must begin for real:
let winter’s dull and hibernating dust
find ends of brooms; quick, scour away the rust
to let the nearing sunlight glint reveal

the sparkled surface that has long been marred
by candles and their residue of ash;
and that stockpile of season’s greetings cash,
if not gone, spend it — load up the bank card

with fresh, green plants, and mulch, and potting soil,
with cleansers, rags, and sponges, buckets, too.
So little time is left, so much to do:
Let’s move it. Put the kettle on to boil.

Forget that lazy book or quiet game
of backgammon, or sleeping in ’til noon.
Ye gods, you know it’s very nearly June,
and we’re still hibernating. What a shame.

Hie forth with mowers, rakes, and pruning shears;
dust off the cobwebs and dried leaves from fall.
Pack up the sweaters, heavy coats and shawls –
We’ve got to push, now that the weather’s clear.

07 MAY 2005

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Last Night’s Storm

Last night a storm rolled slowly in
the thunder muffled by the air
so heavy, like a mortar’s crack
or heavy rifle silenced with
a potato at its barrel end,
wrapped in layers of gauze;
it could only slowly make
its way along the pea-soup night
and felt that it was far away
instead of at our doorstep.
The rain was more like sour sky-sweat
that leaked from cloud-pores; it did not fall
but oozed out in the still air like
the world had run a marathon,
the moisture dripped along its brow
and heaving chest, coating hot and salty
the gasping, overheated ground.

10 AUG 2004

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Eliot’s Month, Not Mine

cywydd deuair hyrion

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
— T.S. Eliot, from The Waste Land

Again the winds are playing
like knives, and the steel wool gray
and ominous gathered clouds
have the horizon shrouded.
The spring that for a week warmed
winter’s bones is now forlorn
and hiding beneath the porch,
confused and quite out of sorts,

proud short-sleeved glory faded,
its sun-drenched dreams frustrated.
Like giants, groggy, half asleep,
the trees hang to their new leaves;
and tender young plants, untrained
and weak, lay flattened by rain
that keeps coming at odd hours
to chill the blooming flowers.

April, you promised sunshine,
but delivered a long line
of bitter squalls; now just half
spent, your span’s sad epitaph
will read of somber, bleak days
filled with dreary, wet malaise,
seeking in vain for some warmth
from your cruel unending storms.

13 APR 2004

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Night Rain: a cywydd deuair fyrion

Awake by chance,
I watched a flicker
in the dark clouds
growing quicker.

Drawn, I watched this
fleeting wonder:
the dull sound of
distant thunder;

the dreamlike build
of slow suspense
in too calm air
still warm and dense;

the dry leaves’ dance
along the street,
edges scraping
on the concrete;

the slow advance
of mist and rain
that gently fogged
the window pane;

the sudden spark
of jarring bright
as lightning cracked
the grey-black night;

the numbing taste
of ions churned
that caused my throat
and eyes to burn;

the sudden gusts
of storm-pushed wind
that hissed and moaned
through the tree limbs;

and then, the whip
of sleet and wind
that chilled my bones
and soaked my skin.

It raged an hour
and then was gone,
leaving small pools
that dried with dawn.

11 APR 2004

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