Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest, week one: storms (amateur category)

Raised in California, you freeze with each storm warning,

listen for the locomotive roar,

imagine the funnel cloud descending

dark against greenblack dusk.

Strange, I thought. You know

the earth can swallow cars, buildings,

that land can collapse to sea,

that the next Big One is inevitable.

Yet a twister might pass blocks away

and leave us unaware until sirens woke us.

But now I know: you are a child of the land.

Amidst its tremors you brace under doorframes

without fear. I was raised by sky,

its furies as much as its calms.

When the evening chills with the hammer of hail,

the air takes me breathless, tense, home.

— Israel Wasserstein

Israel Wasserstein was born and raised on the Great Plains and currently teaches at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. He received his MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2006. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Flint Hills Review, Blue Mesa Review, Coal City Review, BorderSenses and elsewhere.

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Comments on: "47. A Kansas Native Discusses Natural Disasters" (2)

  1. Oh, my, gosh! I did grow up in California where what we most dreaded were the three-day santanas when the dry, hot air blew from the east and stripped all the bark from the eucalyptus trees. I had to learn all about the weather again when I moved to Kansas (but I still wouldn’t go back).

  2. Rick Nichols said:

    I see that my mother has already posted a comment on this poem, but that was posted prior to her experience in the deadly May 22 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. What would she say now? At any rate, I had always told people that I wanted to see a tornado someday, but I guess God misheard me to say, “I want to be in a tornado.” Not so, of course. A healthy respect for nature and its potentially destructive forces is always well advised, whether one lives in California or in Kansas.

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