Tornado Weather


Summer does not age gracefully here in

The plains of Illinois

It burns with the ferocity of a tiger

Beating upon your skin insistently

With waves of light and heat until the sweat

Stains your stomach back and armpits

And runs into the waistband of your shorts

With the heavy itch of salt


In mid-July the days grown quiet

With the sheer weight of the heat

The mercury consistently shattering a hundred degrees

The sky becomes more green and gray than blue

And all people look up to the scudding clouds above them

And mutter under their breath

Tornado weather


All day the wind holds still

And walking home the trees seem wrapped

In smoky haze--as though a distant fire

Were clouding the air with wood blue smoke

Gathering in upon themselves they crack

The earth beneath them looking for any drop

Of water from the rains of last June


The sunset in the west tonight was fire and smoke

As if far away Springfield were burning

And the glow reflecting off the clouds

Still closer to the earth they seemed to lower hungrily

As the last streaks of scarlet disappeared

To the east another show begins

Heat lightning flashing like the wrath of God

And nothing moves


I take a drag from my hissing cigarette and think of you

And other sweaty summer nights

Languorous love and slow wet kisses

Fucking was a dream of dark shared heat

Blown out my smoke hazes the air...


I see the funnel almost three minutes

Before the sirens scream

The stroboscopic play of lightning makes it look

Like an old man weaving home

Or the Lord of Hosts ponderously coming

To Sodom and Gomorrah

Sucking the breath from men's lungs


But cyclones are crafty--habitual liars

Not slowly but fast as a thought this one's coming

Where its hesitant foot touches the ground

I can see the explosions of dirt and debris and hear the wind

Howling like a freight train around it

And I want it


Come to me baby

Hover over me and ride my love

With more than my hands I'll hold you while

You writhe--twist like the furious airs

Scream in the darkness

And scratch at my face


                  and destroy

                                    and destroy

                                                      and pass on

Another drag on my cigarette butt

And you're gone

Riding down the oblivious winds to the far and distant west


                                                                                                            Christopher J. Cramer

                                                                                                            April 2, 1984