Devil’s Lake

Fall 2011 Issue

Eric Morris: Ten Most Deadly

We call it Outbreak. Weather permitting, we call it

Angel Breath. Call it: Mother Nature's Backwash.

Try: the naturally occurring menopause from above.

Or, the mother of all this not-so-mysterious wreckage,

the Eighth Wonder of, what we knew as, the Illogical World,

The Greatest Blow on Earth. Mothers, sorry

for the loss of your daughters on the way to the cinema

to lose their virginity: Natchez, MS; St. Louis, Purvis MO,

where we learned to waltz with our shoes tied together,

threw handfuls of goose down feathers stuffed

in tattered throw pillows out our storm-sealed windows.

A feeble attempt to gauge the weather's misdirection.

How it passes us by. The following areas will be under

anesthesia and a tornado warning until 7:06 a.m.,

or until Jesus makes an appearance on Letterman,

but when will the milk be delivered? New Richmond,

Ellington to Princeton, Gainesville, where my child

ran rampant with police tape and breath that smelled

of sidewalk salt. Woodward, Waco, Flint,

unfamiliar with each other, share a fondness for infomercials

wherein the products cause cancer. Vacate the bomb shelter,

the VW hall, the crawl spaces we never acknowledge

or speak of in public unless the tequila gets the better of us:

Udall, Wichita Falls, Barnaveld, where the last carnival

on earth left the crowd disappointed, the dancing bears

medicated, the town on hiatus. Andover, Jarrell, Little Rock

until 8:15 or 7:00 central. Bridgeville, Haysville,

Wichita for the second time this month, all until the second

coming, the televised resurrection, when the big hand

and the little hand become one and the time bomb goes off.

A moment of silence, please. We have nothing else to offer.

Conditions: constant acid reflux. The cloud cover: erratic.

The Doppler: stable, but requires medical attention.

The solution? Medevac with portable penicillin, a crash team,

or a mild-mannered exorcism. The following areas under

which warnings? Tornado paranoia? Are advised to seek shelter

in the arms of their personal savior, on the lips of an ex-lover,

in back alleys where graffiti prophesizes: we are on the eve

of disaster, apocalypse, Armageddon, the time hears when

all the roustabouts demand medical benefits, higher wages,

a pension, and a storm shelter wherein they can drag the tattered

bodies of their loved ones. Security no hourly motel can tender.

How can we stand at all when all this state does is keep shifting

with the tectonic plates we can't keep in order? Hoisington, KS;

La Plata, MD; Van Wert, OH, have all been relocated

to the lesser-known, but economically thriving

highlands of South Dakota, just a short car trip

from the mugs of Mount Rushmore. The heart of the city

has stopped beating, we are in need of adrenaline,

a shot to the aorta, the commerce is failing,

the mayor indicted. Under a warning:

the following areas, slipped like letters never sent to a hero,

Pierce City, Jackson, all of Nebraska,

this is the toughest part of my job but somebody

has to do it: Ma'am we believe we've recovered

that which remains of your lover, do you recognize

this tattoo of a unicorn with a sledgehammer

in place of the horn? Tornado Alley is no place

to raise a family, or raise Hell. Warning: Marion County,

Georgetown, Cuyahoga, Talladega County, send up smoke signals

like a mushroom cloud to call our immediate attention.

Cross cultures the urgency of the message is spreading:

Regina, Saksatchewan, Canada proper, behold the love

child of Force of Nature and how did things get so out

of order? Bulahdelah, Toronto, New South Wales, Australia

be prepared for the atmosphere to dirty those clean sheets,

blow the sedate Kuala away. Bangladesh 1,300 sacrificed

sheep did little for the 1,300 drop in population back in '89.

Try to avoid a decease in voter turnout and bury, to the neck,

your heads in the sand. What I meant was: there is nothing

that can be done for the water damage, the fissure

          in the ceiling. What I meant, actually: Please reconcile

the place of your birth and the place you thought you were

before the last atmospheric disturbance. I retract that last statement.

What I meant to say was: the Monarch butterflies' seasonal migration

was altered and flooded the streets of Mallorca with gold wings,

No. The transistor radio was transplanted in the Botanical Gardens.

No wonder there is no reception at 100.7 FM. The truth is. What needs

to be done: call in the bloodhounds to recover the abandoned bodies.

Even those still managing, a breath, a faint whisper of words

to their spiritual advisor, a lasting moan. Assume the tornado position

if for no other reason than to feel the aftertaste of a heartbeat.

a photo of the author, Eric Morris ERIC MORRIS works as a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review and the Akron Series in Poetry, and his work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Post Road, Anti–, Weave, La Fovea, Redactions, Slant, and other journals. He lives and writes in Akron, Ohio. More from this issue >