A Guest in the House

Paul Sohar, New Jersey

The first of this pair of poems about Superstorm Sandy is shaped by
the author’s experiences as a child in Hungary during World War II.

Hurricane Bombs

world war II without sirens
bombs without planes
just tons of raw timber sent crashing down around us
exploding into splintered pulp and crippled branches

the hurricane smashes the night
into ruins of sound
tanks trotting over the roof

artillery banging away
on the black-&-white keyboard
of power failure
lit up by the crimson roses of emergency lights

except there’s no war to win
no battle to lose
no good guys or bad
(are there?)

even back then
they kept switching sides
and where are they now

where are the battles they fought
the wars they won

mile-high tulip poplars bomb the roof
and here I am without an air-raid shelter
without a siren to listen for

even the wind has lost its direction
how can I tell where is the hurricane
and where are the liberators
or whether I am a grownup or still a child reaching for
the hand of my guardian angel



During the power outage I am
a homeless person camping out in my own home,
dispossessed by all appliances,
bundled up in rags from the bottom
of the utility closet

I sit in a corner begging for heat and light
and water to wash the bitter face of my soul,
begging my home to put its arms around me
and make me feel at home

Give me a cup of warm tea at least
before my words freeze too;
the word electricity already feels
like an icicle in my mouth and I’m ready

to take all these dead gadgets with their green
eyes tightly shut and pile them up in the living
room for a big bonfire. Let the flames
lift the house out of its indifference!

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Copyright © 2013 Paul Sohar