So many tornadoes that year like they were having too much fun turning the sky green, ripping roofs off houses, juggling cows and horses and trees and tractors, flattening and raising, killing or sending a warning signal – you won’t be so lucky next time. Saw the footage later on the news, after we slunk up from the basement to a house still standing: great grey syphon, barn corkscrewed, car spun like a top. A telephone pole crushed an old lady while she was calling her daughter in Omaha though there was no film of that. And some guy was discovered in the canopy of an oak – still breathing – and a trailer came rolling down the highway sideways with the family inside on some crazy fairground ride. They made it out okay. Tornadoes are like the big kids in school who think they’re playing when they grab you by the throat but really don’t know their own strength. You try to avoid them. It’s like trying to avoid air. IN THE ANDES Page One morning has been through similar but as night disperses it figures maybe it can do better than that even without another living soul then the coughs and the spit and the insane laughter clocks move just rapidly enough and the coughs and the spit crisscrossed with stupid tears dawn’s this Yeats’ trimeter : recited in small chunks : as much about a sea-lion as the sea : a clunky Buick or a daffodil – take your pick : a very normal happening in the guise of a coincidence : a float in an endless parade : like a ghost moving through a refugee camp light stops to meditate on a window-pane I am in Chile in a breathless town high up in the Andes and, from every vantage point, I see enormous mountains reaching to the sky. there is enough outside for me to sit by a window no snow just a fine kettle of green interspersed with some brown some purple keep the eyes steady and the landscape takes care of itself even as the clouds sweep away. breakfast tastes flame-cooked IN THE ANDES Page Two mine is a favorable gut-wrench a heart flattened by a thunderbolt of sight and sound eggs like the hens laid them special coffee that’s a story-teller head a boisterous mix of hydrogen and oxygen thoughts that grow more visible with every sip and despite the zigzag scar a belief that there is no pain travel’s a feeling like no other even the silences enlighten me but the Andes go one better fresh sound wind think I’ll take a stroll infinity redux GHOULS? Standing behind the yellow tape as the body is pulled from the river, the crowd directs its attention less to the corpse and more to their own inner natures, their reaction to all the phenomena they observe in their daily lives that doesn’t concern them and yet, has an effect, nevertheless. Not even the intervention of more cops in cars with sirens whirring can interrupt the flow of visual response and ego, anomaly and individuality. What is one person’s tragedy is a metaphysical state for so many others, not the rescue team pumping the chest futilely or the forensic experts gathering evidence but those with no role to play other than to assign their visceral reactions to the correct feeling. Yes, to some, these onlookers may be ghouls. But by necessity, I’d argue. As a process of learning more about themselves. Otherwise, it could be them behind hauled from the water. And who’d be left to stand behind that yellow tape. SHE shaves her legs, on hot days lathers her skin with sunblock, is on time most of the time, remembers to water the flowers and spray perfume on her wrists, is often too good to be true, doesn’t make much of her Irish ancestry, can be glamorous but mostly looks practical, can be detected but not always deciphered, can leave my mind fidgeting and my heart reciting Swinburne, loathes drama, adores love, is often seen by the pond in the park explaining to ducks that she hasn’t any food for them, or at a musical singing under her breath, or trailing behind a guide through an old historic house to learn how people lived or laying roses at her father’s grave, while all the time answering to her name when I call it but never to the word “she”. THE DICTATOR WATCHES HIS FAVORITE TV SHOW He turned on the television. What the family would be watching this night was decided long ago. The tenseness shrank away from the room to be replaced by a cold air of resignation. It wasn’t the easiest oxygen to breathe. And talking was impossible. Then having chosen the program of his liking. he turned toward the ones occupying the couch and chairs. The screen came to life but his audience seemed like corpses in its pale blue light. BIO: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ellipsis. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Red Weather.