Oh La! Thunder on the Prairie! N'est pas?

Wallace Stevens picture of a tornado



Lately I’ve been reading the posthumous poems of Wallace Stevens. I think of them as Stevensian “out takes” or Stevens “unplugged”–they have all the oddness of French symbolism and neo-Platonism that marks the poet’s best work but the poems are,for lack of a more sophisticated word, “goofier” than even the silliest of Stevens’ poems from the published canon. And so last night as a massive thunder storm swept into Iowa City and as the tornado sirens were sounding–as I was waking my wife and gathering up loose possessions and urging my guide dog down to the cellar, well, I felt the sequenced absurdities of life and death that circulate in Stevens.


Poo Pah!  Bangalore! The tornado knocks on our front door!

He’s a darkling dumbell. He’s pure gestalt!

Aptest angel, without anthem!


Yes, poor tornado. There are no rekindled lips to sing his praises. Oh but we can pull his tail. We can mutter poems in the basement. All is order there, and elegance, two candles and three sets of eyes under the stairs…

0 thoughts on “Oh La! Thunder on the Prairie! N'est pas?

  1. SK, while you are waiting for your Iowa City tornado to pass, we have had our own tour de force in Southern California today. The 10th Annual Braille Challenge(r) finals occurred at Braille Institute in Los Angeles. Sixty of the top braille readers from 1st grade through high school from all over the United States and Canada brailled up a storm in various competitions throughout the day. I was a proctor assistant for the 12 Junior Varsity finalists. Wow, I knew I was outclassed when I asked one competitor how many languages he could speak fluently: English, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. He added that when he is on the Internet he meets people from all over the world, so, of course, he needs to be able to speak their languages. Of course, I’m thinking, of course! If anyone wants to listen to the awards banquet, it will be streaming live on airsla.or at 6:30 p.m. Pacific time this evening:
    (click on their streaming page for instructions. Or you can listen to a podcast of the program later on by visiting their Web site and clicking on the link for Podcasts at the main menu on the top of the page, then scrolling down to the Braille Institute link at http://www.airsla.org/brailleprograms.asp )
    But right now? Those kids were headed back to their hotel for a well-earned splash in the pool.


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