Contains brief and compelling background which was the source for this factual poem.
The mainland west of Galveston Island
declines below sea level.
"Vast marshes there will accept high tidings
of water any cyclone sends,
which, at worst, shall only cleanse
our City's beautiful streets."
"o those alarmist Cubans,
whom, we now note, are all quite wet,
Hear this forecast for our race:
Galveston is safe, and so is the truth:
no seawall need ever be set."
So, nothing erected, in due accord with Cline's status, his bulwark unweathered as local chief of
National Weather Bureau bellwethers.
And no hurricane warning for Galveston
for fear of a forecast error Cline placed
onto nature's chaos instead of on mankind's
imperfectly formulated thoughts.
Washes of water cleanse the streets
of horseflesh. urine and dung floating salted
by the surges ingressing homes flooding and upset, the impacting waves snapping timbers as cudgels
with crushes enough to split floating coffins
and the living flotsam: disembraced, killed in the night.
The mainland west of Galveston Island declines into a marsh of grass
nourished in part by elemental traces of hubris cum humus:
by those dead, whose lives by Isaac Cline's pride,
we note, in fact, did decline.