At dawn that last of days no trumpets sounded,
Or maybe they were drowned in wicked wind.
Though lookouts stared, they spied no spectral horsemen—
Perhaps some hid, well-cloaked inside infernal
Coiled clouds, but no one came. If we had sinned
We weren’t told how. Newspapers all propounded
Their theories: sunspots, global warming, normal
And cyclic ice age, like before the first men.
Plain awful weather. Rain, at first a torrent,
Stopped cold as if the heavens were drained of pity.
And something strange was happening up in space—
Satellite signals died, computer networks
Crashed, and the multitudes who filled my city
Felt very lonely. Through the day the abhorrent
Cyclone toyed with the earth the way a cat works
A mouse—pouncing, clawing, licking its face.
Schools let out early, government buildings closed.
The wind grew steady, spun a tightening noose
Round the Tropic of Cancer west to east—
A fevered dervish dancing on the world,
Genie without its master broken loose,
Freed from its bottle, with blind passions roused.
The sun dimmed in green neon sky to herald
Endless dark, and up from the swirling beast
Tornadoes shot like missiles to the void.
A lone voice cried, “Oh, the bubble’s burst!”
And then the great wind sucked earth clean of cattle,
Children, nations, poems, oceans and air,
Lovers and prayers, the creatures of deep forest
And of the sea—sanctuaries destroyed,
Monuments broken, beaten earth stripped bare
Of soft looks and the armaments of battle.
Wandering souls still hear that cruel wind blow,
Wailing from light-years off, eons ago.
© 2006 by Keith Holyoak
First printed in Clark Street Review (2006)
Tornado © 2009 by Jim Holyoak