Tornadoes

The kind that take your mind for a ride
when you’re trying to sleep and it’s too quiet.
There’s no side that’s comfortable
so you punch the pillow,
though you’ve only seen that in movies,
and hours go by.

You think about not having a job,
you think about living in a storeroom,
you think that your friends are just tolerating you
until they run out of patience.
You think about death and sex and morality
inferiority and lost moments.
You tour the continent, swirling, a blurred and distorted landscape
of all the things you hate and push aside
when you’re awake.

Turns the light on, off again, tours the house.
Writes nonsenses in the journal you neglect.
Smacks against unfairnesses,
rehashes old grudges,
falls you into a pool of not-good-enough briefly,
as the winds ebb briefly,
touches down again from pity,
carries you away again.

You think about the people dead,
You think about them dying:

Chris, that kid you bullied, hanging in his pool hall window,
and how that was the bikers, likely, he dicked over,
his teenaged girlfriend weeping tears over the tragedy of the tragic man she imprinted on.

Peter the miner, whose wife you asked if he was allowed out to play
who gave you that chunk of ore and an Inco plaque,
both of which you still have vaguely orbiting around you, popping up sometimes to make you remember.

Gail, your twin. You never got to know her as an adult.
Saddest of all of your saddest memories,
Your best confidant whom you never got to know nearly enough, not at all.

They’re all in the whirlwind, caught up with you,
All the best of them, unseen somewhere there,
all obscured by dust and years and the tears of frustration.
Claire is there somewhere, but she’s as like a ghost who, even living, never managed to manifest.
But she tried too very hard.

You’re deposited unceremoniously back in bed and see dawn through the cracks,
and it’s another night of waste,
another self-indulgence that robs your living life of any aptitude,
in fear of the whirlwind that carries you away again.

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45 seconds

My sister smashed her dark thoughts out on a day
after black coffee, on a pass.
I think she went with friends from the hospital,
I imagine she didn’t say anything while she sipped.
I picture her going outside,
lighting up a cigarette,
and walking to the railroad tracks.

I think she lay her head down on the steel,
I imagine she didn’t sob while she cried.
I picture a conductor broke his face into a rictus knowing what was now going to happen.

He braked his train and sounded the horn in vain,
Sounded the horn, sounded the horn,
wailed in despair and maybe smashed his hand on the control board
and looked around desperately like everyone does who would try to escape what is going to happen.

I imagine he looked for help from someone near,
and thought of his children he’d be sitting down to dinner with that night.

He didn’t sob that night at dinner, either.
He tried not to when he called us to apologize and condole.
He did, though, sob in the arms of his wife that night,
reliving forty-five seconds of inevitablity,
driving his unstoppable machine over a poor girl’s head.