Poems About Hurricanes

Poems About Hurricanes


The Sink

Hey, I’ve known poor Mississippi
years ago (lynchings) run out,
ran to New Orleans
got a gig
played didn’t stay
jammed in Chicago

Hey, I’m hot in France
got millions for my blues
learned me sadness well
been to Italy too

Déjà vu my Venice
Louisiana mud
wakes my horn

I blow wakes
into funeral bowls that
leach blood gumbo

In mud my
Mississippi meandering
lays my delta sorrow out

When water taps were dry
some taps on roofs were heard
some taps in fact
were played in death
an act of attics sealed

Because death lived in levees corrupt
the Saints can’t march in threes
by Convention Center guts
Trudging in Louisiana mud
wakes my delta sorrow
lets my borrowed
Mississippi horn meander

Hey, making me a solo Mardi gras
with a Bourbon in Paris
’cause the spirits are
telling me to celebrate

Hey, I do great tears, but
really, I know, the heroes
will yet be known
yet inspire:
I celebrate my heroes



The Goddess of Hurricane Irene

Girl, I put a note in a bottle
for Hurricane Irene to carry away:
don’t know where you’ve gone again

Country girl, I know
you always liked to
climb into the sky on your slinky tree
when you were like a cougar on the prowl,
could move me purrr-fectly well

but if only you hadn’t
always moved away
though playfully
you seemed to know you moved me

but I could never track you up a tree, and
only thought that cougars could fly

Maybe if I’d wrapped you in corn silk
and known the kernel of your heart
you’d have thought me more than husk, but

I’ve put a note in a bottle
for Hurricane Irene.

Bechance, once, I saw you do
a whirl-wind dance on the bridge
your hair like glancing rays, you
crossing with the sun and with your smile
and I thought you’d stay in the city
be giddy with me in the wild dance
in the curl up

Surf’s swirling on the beach so I
put a love note in a bottle.

Oh folksy girl, for you I’ve cared; don’t know why
you’d ever say I’d be a tiger suitor
whose roar would make you
more nervous than
“a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

You’ve covered over the bridge of our relationship
and moved to Vermont where storms never reach
said we’re washed up, but

For impossible things I’ve
put a note in a bottle, started to
“nail jelly to the wall”
way back on the boarded up farm
and I’m looking for a tornado, because

Take note:
you’d always said you’d love me
when pigs fly, and
hurricanes reach Vermont


When Storms Cry Out, Cry In

To the beach
she was called to bless
the lifeguard shack
anchored in the sand

The lifeguards had laughed, expecting some incense,
hadn’t known her son had drowned, not known
her hope was jettisoned in the ocean, while
she had searched for potions of resurrection

She had begun her vocation with grit,
had tried to summon any spirit of his
when other ghosts came in the wash
and she had never seen him again —
had tumble-down cried out
cried in, for
her son had drowned

As a joke, to the shack
the lifeguards summoned her, a
psychic of some sort, they thought
the night before the storm

But she had cried in
cried out, must have known their guilt

No one would boast
they had seen the ghost,
though charming Irene
was a namesake

She’d stay alone for meditation
and chanting into the waves, only
the eldest shuddering when she said,
“I’ll lock up when I’m done.” He
remembered the one trapped in the shack
in the storm heard only as “THE ONE”

She went up to the roof
to look at the stars
and they departed with their vodka and beer

Irene heard howls from the bathroom
as foam surrounded the shack
a smell of seaweed and of a fisherman’s corpse

A psychic of some sort
she was washed out to sea,
crying out
crying in

Come to the light, Mom
he said, and

now every foamy year
with seaweed and corpses
a shack and a lifeguard are lost


Walking Near the River

This cane ain’t gonna walk me far out
’cause my mortgage is underwater
and so is my house, a drowning house
that’s washed under and over the
splintered bridge in the trees down
around every tangled timber, twisted limb
far from where I was born

Everyone’s been drowning and
wish it were me, ’cause
this old cane can’t carry me home
to West Virginia (just kidding) —
have to sing awhile you know
’cause old cane and me
we’re old stick-in-the-muds
and it can’t carry me home
Sweet Chariot (just kidding maybe)
but I have to sing awhile, ’cause
my home is underwater
like my mortgage and my wife

Seems everyone’s been drowning but me
I sing, ’cause I swing low
like a stick-in-the-mud
up a river of lost bridges and twisted limbs



On Sand and Steps

Without power
dark and hungry
hurricane charms.

None could wash away
Sandy sorrow and surges
when too many steps
needed to be taken urgently.

My thigh hurts from a pull
because I am unreal, ungraceful
in keeping blind rhythm masterfully
unreal for walking in the dark, and
I fell at the bottom of the stairs
flying like a fledgling on nested steps
catching my foot on an invisible edge

She said to
turn off my flashlight
because the looters she knew
would know she left her apartment

She needed to charge her phone
to talk to her real friends
in the real world

Seems that I, being unreal,
can’t see in the dark,
missed a step,
fell, and
we went to
charge her cell phone
near the security booth
where they hide guards
and do nothing, a light light
house like Potemkin’s façade

There’s a generator at the booth
where she can charge her cell phone
talk to her real friends
in the real world

Unreal in the dark
without heat
without hot water
wet faces are not washed
dirty, filthy tides cry, but

the ocean is more beautiful
and magnificent than the mud
of the tidal marauders, and
the seagulls sang more sweetly
than the people on the street
as I wandered through debris
on the beach with flashlight on
watching a Dredge pipe spray
new sand for replenishment
new food for seagulls, and
food for thought that
wiggles like worms and clam bits

A few skillful birds caught
long pieces of food
and each had five
other birds attack it

A few snatched little pieces
that they ate surreptitiously

Some just enough
for air-to-air to beak combat

Many got none and
one stood away from
the main torrent of muddy water
not seeming to care
wading without waiting

I mumbled you’ll never
get anything that way

It barked at me

Why did you bark?
I blurted

If I chirped
would you pay attention?

It knew a good sand bar
so it flew and landed
flew and landed
so I could follow it

I walked across some rocks
onto a sand bar bizarre, and
an unopened bottle of whiskey
freely floated onto the bar to a stop

I poured some rye
into the whiskey’s cap
let the seagull drink
and wink at me as I
drank from the bottle

Foam rose
time to go

Alone with a thought
it seemed more articulate
than a parrot distraught; thus
it bravely rested on my shoulder
and I brought it home

I was so cold but
I lit the oven aglow
and put up some water
to boil, bravissimo

It asked me to open
cans of clams and sardines
which I gladly did, amen
seeing as I needed an ending
to the orphan joke: a man
walked into a bar along with
a barking seagull, a chirping dog
a priest, and the bartender spoke…

I thought I had been quite a good host
but then it asked if I could
charge its cell phone…

That’s when I cooked it.
It tasted like chicken in wine
blessed by a priest and a bartender.

— Douglas Gilbert


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