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.
|0||0-1 knots||calm||Try another brand of toothpaste.|
|1||1-3 knots||light airs||Go on the carnival ride|
you’ve always been afraid of;
the one that turns upside down.
|2||4-6 knots||slight breeze||Wear more make up than|
you know how to apply.
|3||7-10 knots||gentle breeze||Stop at the bar|
with all the motorcycles out front.
|4||11-16 knots||moderate breeze||Drink the hard liquor|
you’ve never liked.
|5||17-21 knots||fresh breeze||Drink more.|
|6||22-27 knots||strong breeze||When a stranger’s eyes meet yours,|
hold his gaze and smile slowly.
|7||28-33 knots||moderate gale||Learn to lie.|
|8||34-40 knots||fresh gale||Tell them you’ve never loved |
|9||41-47 knots||strong gale||Hire a more aggressive lawyer.|
|10||48-55 knots||whole gale||There’s more than one way |
to skin a cat.
|11||55-65 knots||storm||Shoot your family.|
When the bullets run out,
use a claw hammer on the little ones.
|12||above 65||hurricane||Saturate 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.