Winds of Change

by F. J. Bergmann

You must change your life.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, “Archaic Torso of Apollo”

“I’ll stay till the wind changes.”
P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins


Beaufort scale: a scale of wind forces, described by name, velocity, and  observed conditions.


00-1 knotscalmTry another brand of toothpaste.
11-3 knotslight airsGo on the carnival ride
you’ve always been afraid of;
the one that turns upside down.
24-6 knotsslight breezeWear more make up than
you know how to apply.
37-10 knotsgentle breezeStop at the bar
with all the motorcycles out front.
411-16 knotsmoderate breezeDrink the hard liquor
you’ve never liked.
517-21 knotsfresh breezeDrink more.
622-27 knotsstrong breezeWhen a stranger’s eyes meet yours,
hold his gaze and smile slowly.
728-33 knotsmoderate galeLearn to lie.
834-40 knotsfresh galeTell them you’ve never loved
them anyway.
941-47 knotsstrong galeHire a more aggressive lawyer.
1048-55 knotswhole galeThere’s more than one way
to skin a cat.
1155-65 knotsstormShoot your family.
When the bullets run out,
use a claw hammer on the little ones.

12above 65hurricaneSaturate the house with gasoline.
Soak your clothes.
Light the match now.

* * *

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at the National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.