I. Possum Play
Possum is still.
Light pours round her eye sockets,
spills back in deep pockets of darkness.
I imagine she hears everything;
the outside come in,
the last of her brood rearing up.
The touch of her feet
scrabbling on cold flagstones
will trouble her dreams.
What lies before her
steeps in the slow rising scent of fear
fixing the scene.
I am certain she
regards me her enemy.
II. Possum Dreams
Possum wakes within a dream,
alert to something feared,
past her now.
Around her raindrops
pick at dirt
turning it to fecund mud.
Change in the air
arouses her, lifts her
from one hard dream
one she would not
have foreseen, except
within the dream within her dream
she knows that she must pay it heed,
let it pass her by unseen.
III. Possum Waits
The grass is cool,
wet against her feet.
She feels nothing
she hasn’t felt
before. She waits.
Anthony Paticchio lives in Ashford, Connecticut. Earlier this year he was selected as the Town of Ashford’s first Poet Laureate. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FEED, Black Bough Poetry, and in anthologies published by Hedgehog Poetry.
The guy who moved in behind us thought he was a TV weather person. He had a hand-held megaphone. He had a vision, and a captive audience of neighbors. He had nothing to hold him back.
My wife called him the Weather Channeler. He was like a conduit between the here and now — and the way beyond.
He launched his program right after a cold snap had dumped leaves across the lawn.
I was in my living room, trying to enjoy the World Series, when I heard this numbskull. Beer in hand, I walked out back and there he was, standing on a stool in the part of his yard that tucked up against the backyards of five other homes.
“Gonna be hotter than grandma’s panties,” he screamed. “In My-yammy!”
Hot? Birds skated across their bird bath.
“New records gonna be broken, like that Burl Ives disc you shot after your brother played Little Bitty Tear one too many times.”
Then he laughed, as if he fancied himself a Comic Weather Channeler.
One truly cold gray day, after we had all been marched off at gunpoint into the gulag of winter, a surly blizzard hunkered on the horizon. The Weather Channeler got buckets of frost from his freezer, and threw it up into the air so it fell on his shoulders.
“Brrrr!” he chittered, flapping his lips. “Brrr-brrr-BRR!”
“Come inside Ethan,” a woman yelled from the house.
I never found out if she was his wife, mother or sister.
“It’s eighteen degrees and you’re gonna freeze.”
“No, it’s not,” he yelled back. “It’s seventeen.”
Some days, he dressed up in tight skirts like the weather ladies on TV. That was different.
He had a pointer. It had been a branch. It still had leaves. He would point to the map of the U.S. he had spray-painted on a sheet hanging from his tree. White for snow. Red for hot. Blue for rain. The map never changed, but he pointed anyway.
He was always talking about verisimilitude. I didn’t know how it would affect the weather, but he seemed to think it was important. Like highs and lows.
From other sources, we learned in early spring of a coming heat wave. The Weather Channeler was excited beyond belief. Perched on his stool like a preacher invoking fire and brimstone, he commanded everyone who had air conditioning to help defend against the hellish hordes.
“Open your windows, People, and crank that A/C up, up, UP so we all can” — he paused to slip on one of those foam-rubber hands that football fans use, then swept it through the air — “wave that devil wind goodbye.”
When I heard that, I yelled back. “Hey, Rain Man, A/C is for cooling off the inside of our house. Not for cooling off the outside.”
Before he resumed doing the “heat wave,” he grabbed a Super Soaker and let me have a shot. It was full of Gatorade.
“It’s a hunnert and six and rising,” he screamed.
Seconds later, “It’s a hunnert and five and falling.”
Our neighbors, feeling saved, yelled back at him. “No it’s not, it’s a hunnert and two.”
Everybody had a different thermometer and a different temperature. It sounded like an art auction. It kept folks focused on something other than the heat wave.
By the time they grew tired of sharing temperatures, the Weather Channeler was warning of tornadoes. He stood on his stool and spun in circles to demonstrate how a tornado works. He got so dizzy he fell off and broke his clavicle. The woman had to come outside and take his good arm and help him inside.
We never saw him again. We heard that he went to a facility.
Without his vision of the future, it felt like weather as an expectation, as a companion, as a conversation had just up and died.
It kept coming, of course, but always as a complete surprise, always without warning.
For thirty years, Stuart Watson worked as a newspaper journalist. Watson’s work is in The Maine Review, Yolk, Two Hawks Quarterly, Revolution John, Montana Mouthful, Wretched Creations, Flash Boulevard, Bending Genres, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hippocampus (books), Brilliant Flash Fiction (anthology), Danse Macabre, Red Planet Magazine, Sledgehammer Lit, MysteryTribune, 365 Tomorrows, Fewer Than 500, Erozine, Five South, Barzakh, Pulp Modern Flash, Dribble Drabble Review, and Wanderlust Journal. He lives in Oregon with his beautiful and talented wife (a writer and chef) and their awesome dog.
He opened the window, letting in
warm, cruel wind and full moon glow—
they call this the Thunder Moon,
or Hay, he said, and in that moment I wanted
both, had neither, though I could sense
like a cat a storm coming. He put on
some music, Rosemary Clooney and Pérez Prado, “Sway,”
and he did on her command, his little black
cigarette caught on his lip, filling the room
with a welcomed, spicy scent. Nights like this,
drunk on Petit Verdot, he floated, a fortunate,
happy drunk with emotive stained lips. I watched
from the couch, legs tucked up under, until he
held out his hand. I have no rhythm, am better at
sitting, connecting with people
through silence, or perhaps I don’t
really connect with people at all. But for the length
of one song, he let me
believe I did.
Shae Krispinsky lives in Tampa, FL, where she fronts the indie rock band, Navin Ave. Her short fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in Vending Machine Press, Connotation Press, The Citron Review, Thought Catalog, and more. She is currently at work on two novels and finishing up her band’s first album. She can be found posting her photographs of dead trees at @dearwassily on Instagram.