Thursday, June 07, 2018

Poetry Friday -- High Plains Wind

Unsplash photo via Matthieu Joannon

High Plains Wind
     (after Wind by James Arthur)

     it's true sometimes I cannot
stop myself from lifting
     the roof shingles

unleashing tumbleweeds snapping
tree branches
muddying the pool I'm nothing
     until I happen
barreling down from the North
     filling eyes with grit
     nostrils too
pelting the streets with dusty sleet

above wheatfields
    surfing the waves of grain
so full of high excitement howling
I borrow the arid topsoil
     and fling it into the ditch

arriving with news of the bindweed
     and the horseflies
at times buffeting you so violently
in ways you register
     as fists

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

I am blessed to live in a climate where we have day-long gentle rains that allow the oaks to tower and the corn to grow without irrigation. We are currently several inches over the average rainfall for the year, and yet in the High Dry Plains of Eastern Colorado, even an inch of our rain could save crops and livelihoods. It's desperately dry there, and the wind is unrelenting. When I read Wind by James Arthur, I knew I wanted to tell the story of a more savage and remorseless wind than his rascally wind whose antics include turning umbrellas inside out (I never owned one until I moved to the midwest), stealing hats, and embracing as light as a touch. The wind back home is downright mean-spirited and vengeful.

On a lighter note, we filled the Poetry Friday Roundup Schedule for July-December in under a week! 

Kiesha has this week's roundup at Whispers from the Ridge.


  1. You certainly accomplished your purpose of telling the story of a "more savage and remorseless wind." I feel a bit tossed and turned just from reading it. Your high plains wind feels relentless. Well done!

  2. We have our moments here in the city, even now this evening, that dry wind blows. I had a cousin who lived years near Hays, KS, said her children didn't have much time outside, too windy! You've shown that way of the wind on the prairie in its ugly side, that "borrowing the topsoil" and "flinging it into the ditch". Indeed. Beautifully shown, Mary Lee.

  3. Such a strong voice lashing out in its delightful havoc from your wind, I felt I was there pushing the "grit" out of my "eyes." Your image and poem remind me of the bareness of the "Dust Bowl images from the 30s–you captured it well Mary Lee!

  4. You have done what you set out to do. This is a great rewrite and full of the unrelenting wind as it tears off roofs and puts grit in your eyes. Amazing, strong imagery!

  5. Wind can be so welcomed in a place that needs wind power or a breeze to alleviate the heat. But when it's that violent - wow.

  6. I love your beginning -
    "it's true sometimes I cannot
    stop myself from lifting
    the roof shingles"
    What a powerful poem you've written! I still remember visiting friends in Nebraska thirty years ago and being blown away by the incessant sound of the wind.

  7. I looooove this, particularly those opening lines. Reminds me of the sirocco from Africa we get here by the sea, which sometimes feels like it will rip the awnings (or the shingles) right off the house.

  8. What a cool poem! I loved hearing the wind speak for itself :).

  9. I always find weather an interesting thing to personify. It seems very much a part of our everyday thinking :)

  10. You have definitely captured the wind in Colorado. Fierce and rough and unrelenting. And yes, it sucks the moisture out of soil that is already way, way, way too dry. I can't even imagine trying to farm on the Eastern Plains right now. It's so, so, so dry.

  11. Mary Lee, as I read through this poem, I envisioned myself there inside the words. I was transported to this area and tried to make sense of the wind. Then, I compared this wind to the windy day at the shore this week and realized that we have nothing to complain about here. On another note, the dusty sleet spoken about in the poem made me think back to a couple of weeks ago when we were hit by the most horrible and amazing sleet storm I have ever been in. I forgot that I wanted to describe that poetically.

  12. Whoa! That's quite a wind! I especially love the end, compared with your mentor poem!

  13. This is such a powerful image, and the poem really captures the hardships that many people face in these dry climates. My husband is from Lubbock, Texas and this picture reminds me very much of how that area must look right now. They are currently experiencing a severe drought. I can sense their desperation as I read your poem.

  14. Such a powerful reminder to be thankful for what you have - I am bemoaning our regular "Junuary" weather, whee June is a month of cold and grey and rain, when there are communities that are desperate for the moisture that I take for granted and lament.

  15. The personality of this wind is arrogant, tempermental, and kinda playful in an irreverent way. You really bring this wind to reminds me of the wind of the 1930s. Really, really powerful poem.

  16. For so long we Americans, and probably particularly we mid-Atlantic Americans, have taken the weather for granted--yes, hot in summer, yes, occasional difficult snow in winter, but mostly reliable. Now we are all realizing that climate is to our lives as a species as health is to individual people: without good health, nothing else goes smoothly, and with a changing climate, all assumptions are in *uestion. Your poem shows what it's like to have known that all along. Brilliant first-person voice.

  17. You have a way with words, Mary Lee! surfing the waves of grain is an awesome image!

  18. Well done, Mary Lee! Your poem barrels down the page and fills our mind with perfect images until we feel we are being battered by fists. Here in Connecticut, we have hints of these winds during blizzards, but nothing as unrelenting as a howling prairie wind.

  19. I stumbled on your poem and "it's true today" I cannot stop from reading it over and over again. What a powerful opening, Mary Lee!


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