Thursday, August 07, 2008

Outracing the Storm

the land wet and thirsty after two
weeks of blazing sun,
humidity stiffening the air
to molasses and starch,
breathing a pregnant labor
and you could break four sweats
just sitting there, watching.

now, a day of rain, two days’ storms—
the land drinks it in, lushens, ripens, flowers—
so many greens:
from darkest cloudlight
flicking off raven as he lurches
to roadside, pecks, flaps into trees—
to forest of evergreens newly
sprung from prairie lawn—
even goldenrod and tiger lilies
green in this light, under this sky.

prairie’s desperation becomes verdant forest
where everything began, that original garden
where the Hunter God still roams.

silver casts from birch leaves,
sky lightens to eastward;
I run out in front of it,
out from under the storm—
red lightning shatters a hill peak, trees
exploding every which way,
once, twice, triple strikes
along a corridor of broken air.
the stones glow: even earth
takes on fire, now.

the storm walking, clearing the way:
clearing trees with fire machetes,
clearing a path
for the god to walk.

we must pause, sometime,
in our running,
and stop to pant over our knees,
catch wind
before the winds catch up to us.
till thunder overtakes us
and we must outrace this storm—


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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

There is certainly a dynamism to this piece. It's does what I'm sure you intended it to do with great effect. The thing is, because of the subject matter It doesn't really do anything for me. I can get peering out of a window to catch a glimpse of lightning – as an adult I still do it – but going out and running about in it I just don't get. As I kid you couldn't keep me in the house and I think who I was then would have related to this more than I can.

It's something I find, it doesn't matter how good a work is, if the subject matter isn't of any interest to me I have a real problem getting over that block.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

This was written while driving. I was literally on the leading edge of the storm, and if I'd stopped or pulled over to write the poem down, I would have been inundated by rain and hail and high winds. A great blue heron flew across the highway not more than fifty feet in front of me; the highway between Tomah and Portage, WI, cuts through marshland and swamp-river-flowage areas, with a lot of bird life and other wildlife all around in summer.

I love being out in a good storm. It makes you feel very alive. But I don't necessarily want to be driving in it. I'm fine, it's those other idiots on the road who don't know what they're doing that worry me. I've driven through monsoon conditions, and as long as I have the road alone to deal with, and not other drivers, no worries.

8:39 PM  

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