Foothills Lightning

Lightning’s an eruption from camouflage of the air. At exact points where a bolt rips out of the fabric, it’s a pretty good bet not much else is happening.

Moments before, the air stiffens. The foothills steadily darken. The atmosphere’s close, crawling on skin.

Maybe a few drops fall, as an immense up-roiling cumulonimbus front dark as drilled-up crude looms, insinuating immensity suddenly, pouring in from between peaks of the Rockies, blotting out the west.

A hawk cries from a thermal, before taking cover the last instant. No other birds around, no dogs barking, the air’s not moving, or maybe it’s being drawn above into the vacuum where matter’s torn by extraordinary torque.

No one down here will be winning or losing this afternoon, not anyone caught in yards of built-up millennia. The door in the black sky has blown irreversibly away. Weight that’s over our heads won’t be there for long.

Matter’s flattened in the anfractuous dark. What’s nearby goes truncated, tanned into black and white.

An unthinkable bolt pummels what it hits.

A lifetime passes in a flash.

A steel drum player throws everything into what she’s become. Music greater than anyone expected spreads in static over skin of the arms.

James Grabill

About James Grabill

James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals such as The Oxonian Review (UK), Stand (UK), Magma (UK), Toronto Quarterly (CAN), Harvard Review (US), Terrain (US), Seneca Review (US), Urthona (UK), kayak (US), Plumwood Mountain (AUS), Caliban (US), Spittoon (US), Weber: The Contemporary West (US), The Common Review (US), and Buddhist Poetry Review (US). His books include Poem Rising Out of the James Grabill’s recent work is online at the Buddhist Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Terrain, Urthona (UK), Shenandoah, The Oxonian Review (UK), Stand (UK), East West Journal, The Common Review, Toronto Quarterly, Elohi Gadugi, Oxonian Review (UK), Plumwood Mountain (AUS), Caliban, Spittoon, Weber: The Contemporary West, and many others. His books include Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994) and An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), both from Lynx House Press. Wordcraft of Oregon has published his new project of environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Book One, 2014 (available online -, Book Two, 2015 (now available). A long-time Oregon resident, he teaches 'systems thinking' and global issues relative to sustainability.
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.