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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 the great plains, the 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 strikes, strikes, strikes,
Strikes up.

Look sharp.
There, from far hightower seen,
Out on the parched plains,
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
There where dust devils dance,

And then the final fall
Of the black shawl of night
Draped across the shoulders of the stars.

And then the fading thunder
Rolling downslope into the distances
Into the land of cold stone silences.

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,
But into which shall, in a time without time, in a dream without dreams, awaken.

For his brother, Thomas John

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.

  • 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