First Anniversary of Sandy
Superstorm Sandy struck the Jersey Shore.
As I lay awake in my dark cold house in the Pine Barrens,
I listened outside as the wind chime played
an eerie double song.
Furious wind drove a six note clatter,
underpinned by a three note moan.
The wind tore down trees, power lines, buildings and people’s lives,
rent away vibration from each note,
and stole down the pipes in a low yowl.
The storm left behind strident notes in the key of G,
against the sound of an endless howl of sorrow.
Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey on October 22, 2012
Title of the anthology, Howl of Sorrow, was taken from the poem, First Anniversary of Sandy
Hurricane Sandy never left,
she owns the place.
She laid 110 dead dolphins on the shore
when I came to Stella Maris at the end of August.
She whumped the failed bulwark, thumped the land,
drummed and shook sand and house,
shot waves up higher than the rooftop.
Oh where are the bats to eat the bugs?
The peeping frogs?
The bees to sting my feet?
No more wild flowers but dead weeds instead.
A sole white butterfly lands on a rose,
one late firefly signals for a mate,
a dragonfly searches for fresh water.
All out of time and out of place.
An Arctic Owl south of its range
shelters at city hall on the radio tower in Long Branch,
Monmouth University keeps dogs to herd a blight of Canada Geese
that uproot plants, denude the soil and attack students.
The ocean bears a paucity of fish to feed a scarcity of seabirds.
Is it still a flock when I can count
the number of gulls on my fingers and toes?
Sandy came to Long Branch from both sides,
surged in from the Atlantic and Shrewsbury River,
took the city in its pincers in the middle.
Now she won’t let go.
The thrum of waves in the city
can never compensate for the lack of bird song.
It started before Sandy, I just didn’t notice.
Sweet water grows sour
as a desert grows in New Jersey.
The sea writes us her poem.
Have we forgotten the language of water?
Star of the Sea
I cry for Stella Maris after Hurricane Sandy
when I visit at the end of summer.
Sandy trips off of people’s tongues everyday
as if the storm hit yesterday.
The hurricane sucked sand from the land back in the sea,
threw up dirt, sea water, fish, trash.
I walk the fence along the back of the property
with signs marked “Danger”.
Aftershocks don’t stop.
Gone is the wild flower garden,
only one post from the clothesline
tilts toward the house
to escape the tangled lines that pull it seaward.
The pavilion washed away in the storm
and I can’t walk down to the shore
or sit on a bench to watch the ocean at daybreak.
Each morning sunrise gets caught
in the grid of a chain link fence
that frames the shore with piles of boards
and bits of broken lives.
I lean against the fence
that stands between me and the sea
to get as close as I can
to a dune rose bush that hangs off the bluff.
Torn from the front of the pavilion,
its roots brush air,
most leaves are salt brown,
but it still bears tenacious blossoms.
A butterfly lands on a dusk pink rose