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[Still] [One Year Later] Waiting for the Rain

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. — “Red Wind” Raymond Chandler

Out on our great plains, our land sea
Our Fall crops parch.

Waiting in the lingering light for the drifting night,
Waiting for the rains to stroll through.

Heat lightning.
Ball lightning.
Flameflicker of dark dustwind
Rattles, rustles the dry corn sheaves.
The dust rises within the wind.
To trace the inside of the atmosphere,
And then the hands of weather
Forms fists on the far horizon.

Look sharp.
There on the flint flaked edge
Of the far field the slash of lightning
Harrows and farrows and strikes, strikes, strikes,
Strikes up.

Look sharp.
There, from far hightower seen,
Out on the parched plains’ dust,
Over the stands of black bamboo,
The State’s preserve of heirloom grasses,
Bends before the wild mustangs,
Where ghostly riders behind the rain
Gallop robed with darkness visible…

And then the rose dawn.
And the swirls in today’s far fields
Out there where dust devils dance,
And then the final fall
Of the black shawl
Of night drifts draped
Across the shoulders of the stars.

And then the fading thunder
Rolling downslope into the distances
Into the land of cold stone silences.
Simmers and then sweeping into the West,
Into the blue, into the bleached black, back
Beyond the hills of haze, on the back of some immense angel.

And sheathed in the full armor of God,
The people ride in pursuit of a dream they’ve never dreamed,
Into which they shall, in a time without time, in a dream without dreams,

For his brother, Thomas John Van der Leun, 1947-2020

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mikey NTH August 8, 2017, 10:20 AM

    Red Wind is my favorite Raymond Chandler story.

  • Leslie August 8, 2017, 1:16 PM

    Love this.

  • Howard Nelson August 8, 2017, 4:16 PM

    The rain is coming, with wind.
    Abandon hope, keep your faith.
    For this time there is no ark.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 9, 2017, 6:30 PM

    Very nice compilation of weather. Much of that looks like a light wind here in Kansas. My wife and I love to watch the storms roll in from the deck, which can be seen from miles away since it is so flat. The sunsets here are often so beautiful that I will waste inadequate words, trying to describe them.

  • Francis W. Porretto September 9, 2021, 11:55 AM

    A little something for your listening pleasure while you wait, Gerard: https://youtu.be/te_U7F__4cY

    • gwbnyc September 9, 2021, 1:08 PM

      -earlier this summer I watched a spectacular electric storm about 9:00 in the evening, maybe 15 miles distant. Lightning going in all directions, riveting. I thought better of standing on the porch ouside, turned to go back in the house, and a stray bolt came down right in front of me, seemed to be about a foot thick. It hit some woods 2000 feet away, actually, and started a fire. I called the VFD and they took care of it in about two hours.

    • gwbnyc September 9, 2021, 1:12 PM

      apologies, Francis, for the non-sequitur reply.

  • gwbnyc September 9, 2021, 12:58 PM

    Football practice, 1970. Hard cold. Heavily overcast sky, we looked up and saw small translucent funnels snaking down then returning to the slate billows and strata composing the cloud cover.

    -and there we stayed until the full session was completed.

  • Lance de Boyle September 9, 2021, 2:32 PM

    She stood in the doorway scanning the bar looking for a man who needed a good spanking.
    Her golden hair flowed like waves of hair (because, as noted, it was hair) over her shoulders.
    Her dress, red silk, clung to her curves like something pretty clingy, and silky.
    Her long legs reached half way to the floor.
    She said, “My name is Mariah. I’ve just blown into town.”

  • Dirk September 9, 2021, 2:41 PM

    For some reason I needed this today. Surrounded , well not really but within 20/30 miles in three directions. Latest one towards Lakeview blown up. 50, the 1500, now pushing 30.000 acres, since Monday afternoon Wind raging maybe 40mph. Small rain in that area, who knows.

    Planes are working, no men ahead of it, moving way to fast. Will burn into the bootleg at some point.

    My kids are mostly all wild land firefighters or management, they tell me, they’ve never seen anything like this in their 20 in service. My son told me the example would be your fire GV fast out of control.

    Pray for rain!


    Anyway weather, that piece seems to mellow me out.

    • Terry September 7, 2022, 9:29 AM

      Moose fire. Central eastern Idaho.

      Over 100,000 acres and growing. No, NO air tankers currently! A few helicopters that do nothing at stopping big fires. Yesterday only about 800 “fire workers”. A couple weeks ago there were approximately 1500 persons on the fire.

      Fire started (rumors, but reliable persons) by a drone (apparently an eye witness account) on both sides of the Salmon River. Dot gov now claim fire started by careless campfire. Numerous “back fires” caught on cell phone cameras starting fires. One friend lives next to the Salmon river and watched six back fires started by drones in high winds on hillside just west of his home. There has been lightening and rain at various times during this fire. Lightening strikes may have started more fires. But most lightening strikes were inside fire perimeter according to weather watcher.

      The first fire boss to arrive at the scene told news people this forest was the “poorest maintained” he had ever seen. The roads were in many places impassable for equipment (such as fire trucks so forth).

      The forest supervisor told the newspaper here in Salmon, that this huge forest has only four fire trucks!

      Back story as to why (abbreviated version) this fire was most likely “set” by dot gov:

      Several thousand persons from southern Idaho and other states fled Covid lock downs and possible mandatory/forced jabs to this forest (Salmon/Challis National Forest). And most likely other forests in Idaho. These people lived in tents, campers and the backs of pickup trucks. The Forest Service did not like this. At all! There is more to this and it is not friendly. The fed gov is at war with you and me.

  • Gordon Scott September 9, 2021, 3:44 PM

    Geez, Dirk, where are you?

    Arizona isn’t known for tornadoes, or, as the president says, the New Word for them. But I was an Air Force weather weenie, and that was a wall cloud I drove under south of Flagstaff a couple of weeks ago. No damage heard of.

    Here we get flash flood warnings and dust storm warnings at the same time. Oh, and javalina warnings also, as we now have five in the park. The park manager says we must call animal control, because otherwise the management company would have to spend money. That’s not their business model. Animal Control says because we’re on private property, they will not come unless we pay them. The neighbor across the street says he can solve the issue, and he won’t shoot down the street, either. Just wait for them to wander past his porch. I told him none of the neighbors are going to complain about a pistol shot or two, and I can dress them, and we shall have pulled pork.

  • nunnya bidnez, jr September 9, 2021, 3:52 PM

    my condolences, good sir.

  • CW September 9, 2021, 6:25 PM

    Olbinski just gets better and better at what he does. Mesmerizing.

  • DaveH September 9, 2021, 8:57 PM

    Different vibe but also wonderful – Pecos Hank:

  • Nobody Euno September 10, 2021, 6:51 AM
  • Snakepit Kansas September 7, 2022, 4:10 AM

    Little tiny baby Kansas storm. Looks like Gerard has let me hang around here for five years now.

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