Category One (74 – 96 mph): the lone step in a haunted house on the spine of midnight noise. older bones shatter from gusts but the strong will survive. maybe. probably. the storm of empathy and nightmares, so scary, even the walls start to talk. they tell you it will be over soon as damage occurs. debris falls like piano keys, glass shatters from taped fingers. even a storm gotta sing the blues. oh yes, ooh child, oh lord.
Category Two (96 – 100 mph): wind is the dangerous swing of a fist in the bar fight in downtown on new years. you thought the beating was over, but arms are curled leaves limbs, and your body’s a roof that won’t see it coming ‘till the tree is uprooted and caving your collarbone in. a tornado man steal your girl? fuck, that’s his girl now. Your powerhouse blows a fuse, there’s blood, and you spend the night in jail. sleep it off, pal. it’ll be better tomorrow when you’re left to pick up the pieces.
Category Three (111-129 mph): a few days? a few weeks? devastation can’t tell the time because it sold its watch to pay for food and water and cable, and all of it’s gone, gone! if someone dies on that watch? hell, that ain’t your problem until your femur snaps like a trunk. you hide in the basement with power wires around your throat. calm down, it’s just jokes, you ain’t gonna hurt yourself; the power doesn’t work anyways. you stay hidden in a precipice – you got food and shelter and an hourglass sitting in your lap. it’s a 50-50 gambit: when will the storm finally pass?
Category Four (130-156 mph): you are the man of this house, and they will do as you say. your fist knows catastrophe if anyone has the gall to say no. you rip off the roof like it’s a bag of chips and destroy everything — like chips, you can’t break just one. a mad man finds habitat in your blood stream and makes you heart beat like an explosive. your face is red, your knuckles are blood.
Category Five (157-? mph): total failure and collapse; your house is a body on life support. the ventilators dirty and your food tube turned your gut blue. pray and wait, move the body to the rood. not even saffir and simpson can help you now. your bed is made of power poles, disease don’t even want to live in you now. At the peak intensity, you contract a strand of pneumonia or hunger or dehydration or some kind of ruin. your life is over and there’s nothing to do but say goodbye: goodbye house and goodbye room, goodbye wife and kids and food, goodbye priest and church and garden lavender shrub, goodbye taverns and mayors and zoos. goodbye jack, jose and jim, goodbye twilight zone, lucy, gunsmoke. goodbye to your name and goodbye to your dreams, the quiver of fear you spent all these years building, goodbye labor, your new spine. goodbye brain. no more love, no more crooks, no more bail, no more warning signs or lights. the loss was expected. you won’t get a funeral. your corpse is skinned like a tree is debarked. goodbye carne, goodbye yarn. hello, night.
Category Six (???): there is no such thing as monsters, there is no such thing as ghosts. your particles linger and vibrate for home. is there one Jesus? are there 200 more? you knock on the universe’s door? hello? hello? hello?
Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the southern United States. She is a current editor for the Smaeralit Anthology. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Lunch Ticket, FIVE:2:ONE, Ambit Magazine, apt, Into the Void Magazine, 2River, and more.