Literary Hook: Experiencing the ‘perfect storm’

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

We have recently experienced what some have called an epic blizzard. Blizzards and storms require a set of circumstances to be considered “The Perfect Storm.”
Here in the North, we can almost see the great Norse mythological god, Odin, invoked through swirling winds and drifts. We might call him Old Man Winter.

Here is a poem by nationally-known poet, Ellaraine Lockie. Though it is set in a different state and in a different season, you’ll “get the drift,” if you’ll pardon the pun.

A Perfect Storm

The green brown August lawns jump and squirm
A slimy silk quilts streets and sidewalks
with tens of thousands of frogs
after Odin sucked them up and spit them out
during one of his tantrums

Not many of the Montana farm town people
believe in a Norse storm god
But they bow down to the Bible
that reports rain of manna and quail
Some know Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz
fell from meteorological fact
And enough old-timers remember the frog rain
that hammered their windshields in the ’30s
The same quarter-sized species living
in the swamp on the southeast edge of town

Back then, the place was just as divided
between mystics who believed the frogs were sent
to obliterate grasshoppers from wheat fields
And those who believed in opportunity
Cooks who changed the supper menu
from steak to gumbo
Fishermen with walleye bait on their hooked fingers
And teen-agers who collected the creatures
to sell in the nearest city pet store
If they hadn’t slicked the roads
with entrails for entertainment

Today’s flood of frogs attracts more national news
than the birthright to Pearl Jam’s bass player
More than the world’s largest tractor
Even more than the homegrown U. S. senator
The town has already planned an official
frog-themed Christmas
One resident told reporters
that the biggest blessing is Odin
So drunk on all the attention that maybe
he’ll storm away this seven-year drought
The resident asked to remain anonymous

Bio: Ellaraine Lockie is a widely-published and awarded poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Her seventh chapbook, Stroking David’s Leg, was awarded Best Individual Collection for 2010 from Purple Patch magazine in England, and her eighth chapbook, Red for the Funeral, won the 2010 San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest. She also teaches both poetry/writing and papermaking workshops and serves as poetry editor for the lifestyles magazine Lilipoh. These poems are from her forthcoming chapbook, Wild as in Familiar, to be released from Finishing Line Press later this year.

Christine Swanberg has published about 300 poems in 70 journals and anthologies. An interview with her appears in the 2008 Poet’s Market.

From the Feb. 23-March 1, 2011, issue

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