Sunday evening a devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, and according to reports that are showing up on the Internet, dozens are dead and entire city blocks have been erased from existence. The pictures that I have seen have been horrendous, with one of the most commonly used being a shot of what is left of St. John's Hospital, one of the taller structures in Joplin.
Joplin sits on a line between Oklahoma City, OK, and Springfield, MO, in what is commonly referred to as "Tornado Alley." There have been many bad storms in the Alley over the years, but this one is noteworthy if for no other reason than it apparently smashed right into the middle of the city of 50,000. The damages, injuries, and loss of life are catastrophic.
I will be sending a donation to the Salvation Army, an earnest and sincere responder in times of crisis, and I encourage my friends to give what they can to the charity of their choice to help the community of Joplin get through this crisis.
The following is by the late poet Stan Rice. Mr. Rice was the husband of novelist Anne Rice and the father of novelist Christopher Rice - two of my very favorite authors. It is presented here as a show of respect for the people of Joplin who suffered their own evening tornado.
Of the overhang of the abandoned gas station,
And resembled the Erecthium’s female columns.
The broken power lines flashed white
When they touched the wet ground,
And the girls’ legs showed
As round shadows through their nightgowns.
My candle almost extinguished itself from sheer shaking.
A huge tree fell on my neighbor’s car.
He was in it for safety.
Out he leaped from the unsquashed half
Making the voice of Donald Duck running from death.
And went walking in excess, shirtless,
Praising, opening my mouth, sleek the whips,
Shirtless, as when gods were men.