After the Storm

In light of all the varied horrific weather events we’ve seen, here and abroad, in the recent past, I decided to dust off an older poem which (to me) captures a tiny slice of the experience one faces after the storm.

I first wrote this poem during the hurricane season of mid-1982, though the scenes depicted actually occurred in about 1974 or 75.  Our area — Covington LA — had been hit by the fringes of a hurricane and an accompanying tornado had hurled large tree limbs through the roof and ceiling of a bedroom in my in-laws’ house.

After The Storm
[South Louisiana]

By Jeffrey L. Salter

After the winds and the rain
(and the darkness all day into night),
after the edge of the storm had passed,
it was quiet.

Dawn brought bright sunshine,
apologizing for the tempest
like a recalcitrant lover.
The men began early
checking their own damages;
if the lines weren’t down, they’d call in.
Most would stay out all morning:
jumpsuits, overalls and hard hats
replacing business suits and briefcases.

They would joke and scratch, chew and spit,
and move their feet in the soaked grass.
In a smooth, but unpatterned manner,
like hungry grazing steers,
they’d reconnoiter the neighborhood
and digest all the damages.

Men with no storm damage stayed indoors,
for they’d not met the enemy
and were not bloodied.

Climbing over fallen trees and debris,
they milled through the neighborhood.
The owner of each would detail his damage
as if it were prize bull at state fair.

So there were smiles, jokes,
clucking and spitting
as they proudly swapped damage tales
among the other men
with whom they had not spoken
since the last hurricane.

1988 Northwest Louisiana Writers Conference Contest
(Second Place cash award)

In addition to receiving this award, my poem was selected for reading at the Red River Arts Festival [Shreveport] in either 1988 or 89.

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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10 Responses to After the Storm

  1. Iris B says:

    Great poem, Jeff!

    Like

  2. Shea Ford says:

    Nice poem! Isn’t it strange how people behave after a storm sometimes? “…detail his damage
    as if it were prize bull at state fair.” Tampa hasn’t been hit directly since sometime in the 1920’s, so this part of your poem really summed up the experiences of storms for me, lol. But at least it does bring neighbors together if only for a short while until the next one comes along.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks, Shea. Obviously that experience made an impact on me. To see people quickly transition from the shock and worry (of the huge limb thru their bedroom ceiling) … to “all-business” (of chainsaws & tarps) … to the roving band which toured that immediate neighborhood.
      Several of those guys were oil company executives & most had hard-hats which they only wore on the rigs.

      Like

  3. Sounds like you’ve been there! Well done!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Karen. yeah, but mostly on the fringes. Even with Camille in ’69, the area I lived in had relatively minor damage and high water. Though I had an aunt & uncle who lived less than a block from one of the Biloxi hotels which was totally wiped out!

      Like

  4. Ah, broken ranks again, just as well, all that could be said has been said this week,I suppose.
    You paint a great picture, Jeff; we can see it all…the simultaneous camaraderie and the one-ups-manship that breaks out as the clouds break up. Nice!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Tonette.
      I’d much rather discuss Memorial Day (or other similar days) in the days leading UP to it … than to re-hash it after people have already moved on.

      Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Jillian. I didn’t get to spend much time here on Hound Day because it turned out to be my release day for Called to Arms Again.

      Like

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