Interboard Poetry Community
POEM OF THE YEAR
May 2007-April 2008
Judged byKelly Cherry
Bad Weather by Dale McLain
Submitted byWild Poetry Forum
Poem of the Year
It is the music first of all that tells me this is a poem to pay attention to. The poet varies short and long sentences, carrying the cadence of them straight through to the slant-rhyme couplet that brings the poem to completion. The diction holds steady thoughout; nothing strays beyond the tessitura of the poem. This very American poem ("Sheetrock," "twister" "prairie boat") adheres to a classical sense of proportion that is equally evident in the speaker's statements. The same is true of the emotions it contains: we hear the speaker's fear and exhilaration but also a carefully calculated self-mockery that derives from years of experience with the phenomena. ("You can grow accustomed to storms," we were told in the very first line, and the poem demonstrates that you can. Accustomed, but by no means passive.) Because the self-mockery is handled lightly enough, it charms and does not depress. The poet's gentle acceptance of the emotions stirred by the storm gives to the poem a good-naturedness that the reader feels must be inclusive: reader and poet can experience--let's say weather--the storm together. --Kelly Cherry
You can grow accustomed to storms.
Every night they shake our sheetrock,
set the bricks trembling. Mortar remembers
it is only sand. Our jaunty roof begs
to be doffed. And I huddle within my frame
with dread and an awful wish that the past proves
its redundancies, that miles away the twister
will drop- not here, not now when I have just
remembered my own name.
When the windows bow like Galileo's glass
I begin to pray to deities yet unnamed,
beseech the clever stars that hide
behind the churning ceiling. I confess
that peace is not my plea. Instead I ask
for more colors and a measure of strength
to face the wind. The red oak fusses
at my window, whines and scratches to come in.
But it holds, this vine-covered house,
stands on its wide flat bottom, a prairie boat
anchored fast in hard white clay and history.
Within I slip off my shoes. Tonight is not the night
that I will walk on broken glass and wear the unmistakable
face of disbelief. The thunder's growl begins to lose
step with the lightning. In the attic rafters sigh
and creak like scrawny old men. I lay my head
on the last damp cloud where dreams of whirlwinds
and flying shingles wait. I sleep
like a town wiped off the map.