“Scent of a Monster” by Mark Kissinger

Scent of a Monster

For me, it starts in my back yard, standing on the patio slab

sniffing the air for a monster.

The winds pick up and puff now and then, dry,

loose clouds, and then it comes: the first taste

of the gulf, some seventy miles away.

A scent of vacation, of being on the beach,

maybe just after a rain that puts a sheen on palms,

brings the grackles out to hunt in the grasses.


Earlier, it is only colorful swirls on the radar maps

and prophecies of doom and untold calamity

that has no face except the last same storm

that happened here long ago, or there, far away.


Then rains. Easy, gentle rains, pitter-patter off and on for hours

before pushing up the pace, picking up the pelt till you

see it run down the drive way, collect along the curbs.

You become look out for two kinds of rise, local flooding

where the drains can’t handle the down pour or the marathon

and backs up into the streets to look up into your yards,

lick its lips at your doorways.

The other is saturation, which will come from the rivers,

the lake, if really bad.

We don’t have to worry about the surge itself, seventy miles away,

except for the flood of evacuees who will come like a cross

between lemmings and locust, buying all the gas, the bread,

blocking the highways for all the high ground late comers

when they finally get the greenlight to get out as well.


More than a week after the storm has left the area

another five thousand residents are ordered out, and forced out,

losing both power and water to make up their minds

and save the first responders who may drown in mid rescue

or simply just not come at all.


I plan for the ridiculous worst case scenario now so far away.

If we move to high ground, it will be up the stairs.

We’ll have to remember to take ax and saw to cut through the roof

should we have to go higher, through the attic, and onto the shingles.

Our roof is too steep to pitch a tent on as others have done.

But I do not think to include a sheet, as later advised, as signal

that people are still inside.


Mark Kessinger was born in Huntington WV, attended college at Cleveland state, lived in Oklahoma City and now resides in Houston TX.

Author of The Exploded View, published by Cleveland State Press.
Author of The Book of Joe published by Cleveland State Press.
Contributor to From Both Sides Now, edited by Phillip Mahony.
Contributor to Inheritance of Light, edited by Ray Gonzalez.
The Longest Possible Light- Voices of Cleveland: Bicentennial Anthology