Tuesday Poem: ‘Storm’ by Claire Orchard


Rain overflowing gutters, smacking
hard and loud against the concrete path,
the cat leaping at the walls like something
was living inside them. Wind wailing through
any cracks it finds, flip-flapping the cat flap.
The airport is open, but the trains are not running,
buses are, but not the electric ones and you see online
that Morgan’s precious glasshouse has disintegrated,
spreading itself, serpentine, across her back lawn.
Meanwhile the manuka tree outside your window
is most painfully pulled around. You wonder
where all the birds go in such a downpour? And where
is the emergency kit? People faraway invariably ask
about this sort of thing and you say it’s somewhere,
don’t worry, it’s not as bad as everyone’s
making out. But it’s a good day for keeping
the doors closed, for staying away from windows,
for free streaming old black and white movies,
Westerns, preferably, because today’s about
crisis management, and in your classic Western
there’s always some guy with a black hat
fixing to take over your once peaceful town,
or buy up your struggling ranch for a pittance
so his tycoon, cigar smoking boss can exploit it for oil,
perhaps you have a train of canvas-covered wagons
full of starving, orphaned children to get through
a narrow, loose-earthed canyon before nightfall,
before a posse of tobacco-spitting, dark-eyebrowed
outlaws catches up with you.

“Storm” is the second Tuesday Poem from one of my fellow poets who appeared in the Exercise Book Live at BATS. Claire Orchard is currently completing an MA at the Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has been published in Penduline Press, and her work is appearing in the upcoming issue of JAAM.

I think this is a fantastic poem. While it appears to be about a storm, for me it is about story telling. The first part of the poem tells the story of a storm, and then the poem transitions into a humourous list of Western movie tropes. For me, this suggests that any stories told the next day about the storm (the unavoidable first topic of conversation), will suffer from the same predictable plot lines. I also think it’s a poem about imagination, and how, during a storm, the speaker in the poem takes their excitement and lets it feed their imagination.

For other Tuesday Poems, check out the hub.

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