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Sunday, July 02, 2006


by Verandah Porche

We chafe in the cafeteria,
make points, scratch notes as two men clarify:
Should their power plant put out a plume,
we’ll get word over the airwaves to
Stay Put (I quote from an old emergency
radio decal): Close all doors and windows.
Go into your basement
if you have one.
or Evacuate (I exaggerate):
Sling Gram’s walker into the hatchback.
Never mind sleet, foot-deep mud ruts,
livestock, pets. Motor north to the high school
gym, find kids, tumble, shoot hoops,
eat bologna till the all-clear siren.
Old Mert who has run a snake down
a thousand drains raises his hand:
Why waste another fifty grand for a man
to train us to do the impossible?

Winter throttled us: blizzard, hazards.
Now May, Yankee-men rehearse
Terror over the Ridge again.
I hack roots, heap rock, sort trash,
sprinkle ashes for a new clearing, scented
by lilac, scored by semi-automatics.
Look, we are not the target.
Shots tat our safety net.
Listen, it’s a fireworks finale,
minus the dazzle. Each pop, my pang
of solidarity with all who till
in peril.

Based in rural Vermont since 1968, Verandah Porche has published The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books) and has pursued an alternative literary career. She has written poems and songs to accompany her community through a generation of moments and milestones. As a teacher and facilitator, she has created collaborative writing projects in schools and nontraditional settings: literacy and crisis centers, hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern and an urban working class neighborhood. Her work has been featured on NPR’s “Artbeat,” on public radio stations around New England and in the Vermont State House. The Vermont Arts Council awarded her a Citation of Merit, honoring her contribution to the state’s cultural life in 1998, and a recent grant to support the preparation of poetry for publication and performance.