This week, I got my contributor copy of Paper Nautilus. It's a lovely little journal, and for those of us who write both fiction and poetry, I was surprised by how many short stories a journal of 136 pages could include. The limit is 6500 words for fiction; I need to look through my files. I've been thinking it's time to start sending my short stories out into the world again.
The thing I found most curious about the journal is the lack of a table of contents. I must confess to looking through the journal more than I might have if I could have answered some of my questions by a simple consultation of the table of contents. I had to look through the journal to find my poem and to discover who else had been published with me. I had to dig into the journal to discover the proportion of poetry to fiction.
The journal published my poem "What They Don't Tell You About Hurricanes," which is kind of strange to read now, as much of the northeast is buried by a monster blizzard. But hurricane season will be back soon enough.
I'm fairly sure that this title is not my original creation. I'm almost sure there's an essay with the same title in the wonderful book Writing Creative Nonfiction. The essay stays with me even now, the writer who bought his dream boat, only to see it destroyed by Hurricane Fran. I'd look it up, except that I don't own it.
So, here's the poem, all of it true, except for the reference to an industrial wasteland. I wouldn't have written it at all, except for the strange incident of weeping in the parking garage some 4 or 5 years after Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. The industrial wasteland is actually a water treatment plant, but I changed it for some dramatic impact.
What They Don’t Tell You About Hurricanes
You expected the ache in your lazy
muscles, as you hauled debris
to the curb, day after day.
You expected your insurance
agent to treat
you like a lover spurned.
You expected to curse
your bad luck,
but then feel grateful
when you met someone suffering
an even more devastating loss.
You did not expect
that months, even years afterwards,
you would find yourself inexplicably
weeping in your car, parked
in a garage that overlooks
an industrial wasteland.