After the Storm
An Anatomy of Melancholy, Hughie O’Donoghue
At daybreak cars crept along the main road
out of town, luggage racks piled
with huddled bundles.
Those of us who stayed
stockpiled batteries, bottled water, canned beans.
The streets emptied of everything but heat.
A couple of storm chasers
cruised in like they owned the place;
one of them would die years later in Texas,
the tornado whisking him off the ground like a leaf.
When it finally arrived, its black hand tore
through whole fields, tossed aside houses and trees,
grabbed the sun in its fist.
I always believed each morning
I’d wake, each day would bring
some new joy.
but now fear squats in my heart
ready to fling me to the sky.
The clock’s small hands carry me
to the house where I was a child
and in those rooms peace settled
despite the war inside the TV,
the lunatic with an axe who filled
the drive-in screen. My parents said
no harm would come if I was good.
My room was buttercup yellow,
it was always spring; my Barbies
were missing arms or legs, while boys
came back from Nam in bags.
Everyone seemed old but they were young,
now everyone seems young, and I’m the one
crowding the night with phantoms.
The Little Ice Age
The freeze that put trees to sleep
shrouded steeples, cast drunkards
who fell short of their beds
in marble effigies. A quicksilver city
crowned the solid river, mansions
The frost made merry sport:
skaters coupled with their reflections,
children and dogs yelped with glee
at their foolish legs. The people were dazzled,
each step lively and dangerous.
Some heard the low rumble
trebling to a cry, saw the shatter webbing
the surface, and, before the man could flee,
the surge of break widened at his feet,
pulling him under the icy sheet,
but most did not, content to live
in the suspension between freeze
and thaw, easy in their play. No one
wished for spring, with its sentimental
blooms and twittering birds;
the strange and fatal fevers
carried on the first warm breeze.