Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Climate Change? Or Unburied Dead? Going Beyond Science to Understand 'Twisters'

By Photo of the AuthorWes Unruh

It is impossible to look through the images of the Joplin tornado aftermath without a sense of withering smallness - the landscape is rage and tinder, a barren warzone and is photographed as such again and again.

I know the running debate is - essentially - that this is either a result of climate change or somehow associated with the increase in temperature from the gulf of Mexico as a result of the oil spill changing the water's refractivity or some such scientific shit. But the truth is it's ghosts. Angry, bitter, and unburied dead raging and raging across their lost lands.

Bear in mind that I'm making poetic, intuitive leaps in the paragraphs below, tied together with the barest threads of balderdash and shinola - and I do not want to make light of anyone's suffering - in fact I'm promoting Denver Band Relief and their communal effort to put together music shows to benefit a number of victims. This isn't about blaming the victims, it's about laying to rest the unburied dead.

This is not 'fact' in the strictest sense, but it has a kind of truth, something classified in other blogs as a synchromystical truth, which here I will relay only as a kind of modern myth - unmoored from djinn and religion and anchored in the very rooting sense of the fabric of this United States cultural dementia and hallucinations in honoring and sealing away the dead improperly: I do not know this but I feel it, and it overwhelmed me enough that I put that raw sense into poetry to capture, honor, and lay to rest the violent unburied ghosts who's dance is erasing whole cities from the landscape; a laser-tight eraser marking out the suburb, the rural, broken and betrayed landgrab, this ghost dance raises storm giants, thunderbirds. Capturing this in prose is hard enough, I warred with the tumultuous nature of these visions to hold it down in poetry as 'Outcry This Dark Story' which is a significant portion of the poetry contained in 'The End of the Word As We Know It' (coming out soon thanks to

If this is true, there must be some reason. I started with the impossible hypnagogic hallucination of a vortex intermingling, where narrative bleeds through that fourth wall familiar to magicians and actors which blows to smash the tradition and rote of assigned roles and can even falsify memory, a maddening space where nature re-asserts itself as thee primal mover, and driven by the void - a void of memory, broken treaties, and trails of tears.

So if this year of the twister has behind it some vengeance, if it is driven by the unburied dead, then surely there is a reason? I write this as a line of storms which started in Oklahoma move east, marching across Indiana and Ohio. This evening tornados landed in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Again, I say this is about the dead, not the weather, not the climate.

Wichita has never had a tornado strike the land protected by the Keeper of the Plains, because it keeps the dead asleep, sedated - and diverts the spirit winds that breach the void which spawns these massive storms. Again, this isn't 'factual' but it is a true story: celebrating the Keeper of the Plains does the unburied dead an honor, and in response the unburied dead spare the city.

There are few immersive environments as complete as honoring the dead to prevent a tornado; numinous experiences, religious experience begins to capture the raw elemental force of staring up into a night filled with void and vortex, lit by backlight strobing lightning - phantasmagoria walkthrough spirit winds with eyes closed, smelling ozone, green walled sky... My own sense of the spiritual is very nuanced and I'm pretty certain I'm still safely situated in metaphor as I begin to lay out the 'synchromystical' connections within which the narrative I've explored above has led me to uncover.

On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa, Alabama was hit by a half-mile (800 m) wide tornado that resulted in 41 deaths, over 1000 injuries, and massive devastation, but it has an even bloodier history. In reviewing the official records for 2011 tornadoes I stumbled across this map which seems to pretty much overlay this map. Certainly the more recent tornado in Missouri can also be tied to a problematic and violent colonialist history as well, never mind the sheer madness that was the Oklahoma land rush.

My sense is that the Ghost Dance was never meant to drive the 'white man' from the land, but to honor the dead that they may rest - lest the unhonored dead seek vengeance. Sadly it seems this message was lost - perhaps because there was poor translation, perhaps because the dead fought back and twisted words with speaking winds (like the djinn are said to do in deserts far from here) - turn thoughts to violence, and loss, and open up new voids.

And further, that this must be the year of the ghost dance, for all of those who live in lands that were bought with blood and forgotten, broken oaths - that without some memorial, new markers, true stories told, that the dead will continue to seek to wipe away these scars on the lands they only dimly remember, though they continue to tread. I do not believe that every single tornado that touched down landed on the site of a massacre - I find it hard to believe that ghosts can steer a tornado with much accuracy. But I do think the howling mad winds produce a spiritual disturbance which resonates with the history of the land and those who bled into the land.

My poems on this matter will be published soon by Weaponized. Look for the upcoming official announcements on their tumblr and facebook group. My photo is inspired by the photography of Xanadu Xero.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...