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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


    In the granular finery
    that follows, a Kryptonian
    like Clark could get a good bath.
    Not so the rest of midwestern
    humanity, which faces...

                THE DUST BOWL
           (No Bastion of Humility)

         A boiling sun beating
         down on brows scrambling
         to escape stinging new sands;
         Dusty demon-hands
         scraping the inner rim
         of five states, sculpting the once-soil-
         now-clay into clods that break
         away, taking leave of the ground;
         Dry sage, crackling with age,
         tumbling around,
         driven by wind whispering
         an ancient secret;
         Coarse, all-too-human hands
         holding the children,
         sheltering young lungs
         from the smothering storm.

    Today, though, the Dust Bowl2
    is opposed.
    It blows, it howls.  It knows, it scowls
    at the brave (or mad?) man-child
    who has surrounded it,
    who's flown 'round and 'round it,
    from its Kansan eye through its sandy mass,
    to the clear skies beyond its grasp.

    Clark's plan (straight outta the Wild West):
    Head the storm off "at the pass,"
    circle it in reverse
    and form a vacuum to press it
    into a twister cone; then flip it
    with his twirling wrists
    and change the course
    of this mighty natural force,
    spin it like a lariat
    off into the stratosphere.
    Will it work?  The answer nears.

Really, this poet can't put it
in terms more apt than Steinbeck's
in The Grapes of Wrath --

"The last rains came gently,
and the did not cut the scarred earth
....(which) became pale.  The air was thin
....the dirt crust broke and the dust formed
....the wind grew stronger....the air and sky
darkened....The dawn came, but no day" --

but he can surely rally his talents
and give it 'the old college try.'

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