Two Poems

by Billy Reynolds


Hurricane Party


In our kitchen there was this landscape painting
that oversaw all our changes, a tunnel of yellow trees
and a grass path static with fall, the painter
daydreaming nobody around, limestone bluff
and incidental pines, though twice in one day
a small tornado touched down in my sister’s life
and sewed up the idea that hers was a dangerous life:
the black sky caught in the glass behind the bar,
Rhea, clipboard in hand, walking back to the kitchen
to change out the keg, when the funnel cloud
dropped from the god-breathed clouds
and she squinted it into vision. Did she
see the street lights ripe for picking
before she yelled the dinner crowd
into that cold snap cooler, each breath like a comic strip’s
thought cloud? Not a word was said in that locker
for minutes, only breaths, in and out, take it as it comes,
the next day’s salad tossed on every blessed soul
like confetti at a concert, though the tornado passed high,
only clipping a few tiles, before it swerved east and hit her apartment.
It was something you’d curse till kingdom come, amen.
It was something you’d bless with White Russians
and Hurricanes, with hi-fi and Same As It Ever Was,
to sing each storm out, one by one.





Wernher Von Braun Surrendering to a U.S. Army Private, 1945

The V-2 rockets were for the biggest part produced under terrible conditions: Principal production took place in an underground slave labor factory collocated and run with the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. The underground factory was itself built by slave labor, through digging massive tunnels right into the solid rock of the Harz mountains.
          —from the Wikipedia encyclopedia

It’s an old story, the jocular face,
the upper-left-side of his body cast in white
plaster as a result of a freakish accident
when the liquid fuel exploded and hauled him out
through the glass doors of exchange.

Let’s go ahead and call that Baltic compound
the birth place of the missile.
Let’s go ahead and pronounce the second i
in missile with a high i sound.
I turn the page and see fright skulls

high in the library stacks of research,
across the street at the Von Braun Civic Center
a replica V-2 alight on his bronzed palm.
I speak to his maiden-white cast
enveloped in his leather’s enigmatic black.

I speak as if he forgot that morning
to lose his past, a cold morning, a screen
of woods behind him, gray graying oak,
maple, cedar, or hawthorn,
the sun hid behind passing clouds.