Cut to a highway overpass like a bomb shelter. An unsuspecting family of four driving into Oklahoma en route to Wichita, Kansas to visit grandma with terminal dementia. Cut to an airborne Dodge Caravan in need of an oil change, paint job to cover the primer, tire rotation, rear end suspension. Cut to the damage sustained after being dropped from the heavens, like an asteroid with a VIN. Cut to the loss of virginity in the arms of a stranger, on the eve of disaster, on the hood of the aforementioned Dodge caravan. Cut to Leonardo DiCaprio and coal sketches of naked women as the wind kicks at strands of pubic hair. Cut to a dissected doublewide. A cowboy missing his horse. A blemished sun smeared from the sky, like finger paintings by blind children. Cut to me in my boxers watching reruns of the catastrophe unfolding on Cinemax, a bucket of popcorn pressed between my thighs next to a warm Miller Lite. Cut to commercial: American Idol, Midol, Tampax, and Listerine, so when in the casket the extra’s teeth will sparkle. Cut to a sex scene as the storm front bares down on the log cabin and somehow fire still glistens on flesh, the improbable romance. Cut to a makeup artist whose specialty is corpses, battle scars, and werewolves. Cut werewolves from the script. Cut to neck braces, gurneys, a man scalped by a satellite dish dislodged from the balcony of the luxury condos. Cut to a vase of quiet petunias that show no signs of trauma. Cut to the family of four now huddled in a public bathhouse in Texas. Cut to the storm chasers and the widows in thin veils with tissues. Cut to rows of children in the tornado position as if knelt in prayer, waiting for class to be cancelled. Cut to a child crying in the shell of a bungalow, a meteorologist in the studio, waiting for news from the field reporter recently relocated to the emergency ward at St. Anthony’s hospital. Cut to commercial: Depends, Clearasil, Nicorette. Cut to onlookers standing too close and poking the funnel with a stick like a sleeping wolverine, like a grenade that failed in its time of need, but kicking might get a desired result. Cut to a man in a mobile home. Rather, man in a mobile casket. Cut to a hillbilly without a clue or sense of hygiene, acting like he saw something other than the insides of a prostitute. Cut to the scars in the heartland. An aerial view, serpentine burial mounds the indigenous constructed like veins running away from arteries. Cut to a two by-four thrown through a retaining wall, spear-like. Cut to the calm. The aftermath where all the citizens reveal themselves, act as if just born, and cry until the golden retriever crawls out from beneath the wreckage. Cut to the credits: Tommy Lee Jones as the tornado. Winona Ryder as distraught widow. Jack Nicholson and Danny Devito as homeless guys two and three, respectively. Me as consumer accumulating ample late charges when the VCR eats a video. Cut to me as casualty surviving the day-to-day weather, surviving, but aware of tomorrow.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
February, I am flooded with sorrow. It pains me to know we will not rendezvous until next year. Next year I’ve sworn you off, a rash I’ve picked for the time it takes the sun to orbit this inclement rock. If only we were better acquainted and made love for no other reason than to make love. If only you weren’t a foreign entity to my body, the splinter to be removed with pliers, the tick to be burnt with the sharp end of a fine cigar, a peppermint lodged tight in my throat. February, I will fill you with heated helium to make your body a dirigible and shoot you down as the threat you are not, but would kill to be. If only my corpse, though still alive, had climate control settings: a thermostat to cool me off when you fire me up, storm windows to keep you outdoors and lonely. It doesn’t. I carry on. Next year, the lake effect is preempted by some little disorder that leaves me vulnerable to your tactless pickup lines, and affinity for role playing, though this is as unpredictable as you. My meticulous body incessantly plots against me. The peppermint melts, undoing itself all together.
Will of the Meteorologist
Under the proper kind of weather, I want to be remembered as the reporter
who brought you Winter Storm Watch ’94, the evening edition of Flood Warning,
and warned you, devout public, to cover your petunias, wrap them in turtlenecks
when a frost kill threatened the summer of ’87. I’ve defined myself by the cumulus-
nimbus, the calming effect of rain on Chilean llamas, and the distress a July sky causes
golfers on the back nine. A fog has settled on my horizon. May the following bequests
be made on the occasion of my passing: I bestow to my daughter, April, my poncho
from embedded reporting on Hurricane Andrew. To my first son from my third
marriage, I leave my faithful thermometer. Its bottom has leaked mercury for years.
My second wife, if she’s still alive, please, find my other set of keys
for the evacuated, but storm-friendly condo in the Gulf. To no one in particular, I wish
to impart a weather-beaten hemorrhoid pillow from seasons of storm tracking behind a desk
cascaded by a jet stream map of lonely Seattle. For years, I projected baseball to be rained out
on account of tornados, grapefruit-sized hail. Dual Doppler radar tracked me like El Niño,
the sky now empty as it ever was in tropical Chicago. Like a typhoon with nowhere to be,
I am the dissipating clouds over empty Idaho. Constant funnel clouds have plagued since
the first diagnosis. Tomorrow: chance of snow with little to no discernible accumulation.
How to Assume the Tornado Position
In grammar school, I learned to index: dire, times in; emergency, in case of; survival; inextricably, fucked. I was taught to love the innermost wall, the windowless space, the inhabitants that seek shelter. I pursued the body’s natural reactions when struck with panic. The limpness, the aches of security, the sound of a voice when I can’t discern a body. At the sound of the safe whistle allowing the body relief, I learned to drool on command. (see also: ponderous--how a body still beating and a body beaten differ only in the placement of the hands).
-- Eric Morris teaches writing at The University of Akron and serves as a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pank, Post Road, The Collagist, Anti-, Devil’s Lake, Weave, Redactions, and others. He lives and writes in Akron, OH where he searches (mostly in vain) for a way to lift the curse of Cleveland sports.