Tornado Watch – Carl Boon

Conditions are favorable, expect the unexpected,
be aware that a fork’s enough 
to break your heart. We listen, 
but until the screen goes crimson 
and an official-sounding voice says 
“Man, shit’s over for you,”
who cares? My father liked the Chicken Little story;
my mother wove blankets in thunderstorms;
I was a boyish Ben Franklin 
until I fell in love for real and got it. That fever
that makes you go to the porch and sing,
transfigured, that moment every cloud
seems funnelish. Of course, they warned me,
don’t get too close, keep your options open,
know the door. Grandmother had her stories, too,
when she was alive with tea and pie. 
But what could I know? I was heavy 
to be caught in new weather—I was ready
to be astounded for a change. What it feels like
inside, the twists of flesh, the grown-up sounds,
the barometer dropping. I was hungry 
for doing it not to me for once, for letting her
be surprised, even if it came too fast,
the hail, the green-black demon air.
That smell of ozone before and after.
To be a man means facing it, wind and fury,
the freight train and its aftermath, but no one
ever tells you that the aftermath is worse,
a letter, a call. Insurance never really matters.
I went to the yard, I picked up branches 
and laid them evenly on the devil strip. 
I heard her voice in my head saying 
it wasn’t quite what she’d imagined. This 
will happen many times until the sky grows still.

C BoonCarl Boon’s debut collection of poems, Places & Names, will be published this year by The Nasiona Press. His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Posit and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.