The Tennessee Twister: A Poem

"Yesterday, we had a nice brick house and four vehicles.
Today, we don’t own a toothbrush."

Susan Henry
Mossy Grove, Tennessee

The gray funnel begins in white —
grows dark with gathering dust.
It grabs a car then sets it down
like pocket change.
Southern breezes turn to rage.
A trailer wraps its metal walls
around a pole, crushing every sign of life.
Something simple as the wind
carries Armageddon gloom.
A child scowers mounds of wreckage
looking for the legs of dolls.
Dresses hang from bending branches —
empty costumes of the dead.
Every stanza that I pull,
a thinning string of dental floss.

Tomorrow’s sunrise isn’t dawn —
just burning lamps for
fourteen months of body counts
outsmarting calculus and strength.
Bracelets of the evening stars
lost between the cracks of fate.
Piers reduced to splintered reeds
without a song — while oceans boil
and millions utter words of why.
Cartwheels of the tumbleweeds
dine on crumbs of waning prayer.
I’d whisper hope in the conch
of a stranger’s ear, but flesh is gone,
van Gogh style, the gutted artist
languishing as moss weeps over the rock.

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