(This exercise was created when Hurricane Hanna arrived in Philadelphia in the form of a tropical storm. This is dedicated to the hundreds of people and animals who lost their lives in Haiti and elsewhere when Hanna had been a full-blown hurricane. My joy and pleasure for the remnants of Hanna's warm, windblown rains refuses to ignore the danger and suffering it brought days before arriving in my city.)
Sit outside under shelter of a doorway, or pavilion, or umbrella on a park bench, but SOMEWHERE outside where you can easily touch, smell, taste, FEEL the storm. Lean your face into the weather, face pointed UP into the storm, stay there for a bit with eyes closed while water fills the wells of your eyes. Come back into the shelter properly baptized in the beauty of pure elements and be quiet and still for a few minutes. Take some preliminary notes about your surroundings. Try not to engage with others who might run to your shelter for cover. If they insist on talking MOVE somewhere else, you are a poet with a storm to digest, this isn't time for small talk! You are not running from the storm, you are opening to it, you are IN IT! Stick a bare arm or foot into the storm, let your skin take in a meditative measure of wind and rain. If you are someone who RAN from storms in the past take time to examine the joys of the experience. Remind yourself you are a human being who is 80% water SO WHAT'S THE HARM OF A FEW DROPS ON THE OUTSIDE ON YOUR SKIN AND HAIR!? Right? YES! Pause, hold your breath for a count of 4, then write with FURY and without thinking, just let it FLOW OUT OF YOU, write, write, WRITE! Set an empty cup in the storm, hold a slice of bread in the storm. Then put a little salt and pepper on your storm-soaked bread, maybe some oregano and garlic. With deliberate SLOOOOOOOOOWNESS chew your storm bread and drink the storm captured in your cup. Slowly. So slowly please. With a slowness which is foreign to you. THINK the whole slow time of chewing and drinking how this water has been in a cycle for MILLIONS OF YEARS, falling to Earth, being drunk, quenching horses, lizards, dinosaurs, humans. They pissed, they died, their water evaporated and gathered again into clouds to pour down STORM DOWN into rivers, puddles, aqueducts and ancient cupped hands. Humans who have LOVED who are long dead, humans who thieved, raped, murdered, were musicians, generous, playful, disappointed, fearful, each of them dying in their own way, their water coming to your bread, to your lips, to your stomach, to feed your sinew, your brain, your living, beautiful day. Take your notes POET, IT IS YOUR DAY to be totally aware, completely awake! Now, take ALL YOUR NOTES, and using THE FILTERS "PILGRIM" and "STAINED" shape your poem.