Black Sunday, April 14, 1935

This a true story.

We know it is true for two reasons:
My mother never lied.
And all the stories across that choked rolling plain are the same
about that day.

While out on a drive with her beau (who was not my daddy)
(but I often wondered if the two of them’d been off necking somewhere, but
she says not, so I believe her, because see reason #1 above)
Ahem to get back to the story:

Whilst out on a drive with her beau
on a day no one identified as sunny or not before the event
(and my mama never really said *exactly* what they were doing, but
it appears the car was stopped even before they saw the cloud coming,
so I thought maybe they were parking, but she says not, so see reason #1 above)
but I digress:

They saw the cloud coming and quickly rolled up the windows
(because it was spring in Western Oklahoma and the weather was probably
really nice and warm and you know, springlike, because every day of the dustbowl
wasn’t a miserable nightmare, you know about spring and the goat-footed balloonman
and they were 17 and I’m pretty sure he must’ve at least stolen a kiss but my mom says not, and reason #1)
so to continue:

The wind shook the car and the fine dust sifted in
through the closed windows and doors
and the world outside
was dark with it, like midnight, when a beau
would under normal circumstances kiss his girl

unless she happened to be my mother. Which she was.

So he didn’t.

I wonder what story his kids tell.


Swing Shift

1 AM
is not the time for singing.

The disreputable cat
who sleeps in the interstice between yards,
pins his attention upwards,
pining for claws someone took years ago.

Neighbors, none of whom I know,
buoy lightly out of sleep
wonder if dawn is near.

is anybird listening
moved by your syllables?

I lie scanning the meter of your song:
anarchy anarchy anarchy
sweat sweat sweat
you-lose you-lose you-lose

But since you are a mockingbird
the rhythm doesn’t come back around,
not once.

I nestle beyond sense once more,
twixt boy and cat, close-eyed,
happy of not working as hard as you,


mbird at night




It’s pretty well-worn imagery,
but the storms really do roll here.

Seemingly from two directions at once,
the scooping wind is a solid presence.

The trees do a stadium wave up and down the street.

The sky darkens, slowly, from the northwest.
Local dogs
have fled indoors,
birdflight is comically controlled

The cloud lightning is a tease,
pulsing but seldom forking,
thunder sounding but never cracking.
Always, somehow, behind the trees
and never overhead.

Too soon, only remnants,
complaining and ragged
in the distance

and it’s a little lonesome
in this dripping, scented quiet,
just one lone dog somewhere,