‘10,000 Thunderstorms’

by douglas john imbrogno

AMP Multimedia photoillustration.


Awake, abed, in a
shadowblack room.
Eyes closed. Then,

my field of vision
goes white, the color
of a stick of chalk.

Am I enlightened, at
long last? Or dying,
witnessing the near-death

glow of an itinerant
god? No. Eyes, unwrapped,
search the misty darkness.

Still alive. Then, my ears
move to the fore, alert.
Loud growl of thunder

on the other side
of my bedroom window
shade. Lightning, then.


If I’m to be an
insomniac, a fine
thunderstorm is a

welcome thing.
To entertain. To
relish and divert from

mournful or misbegotten
thought. I ponder
getting up. Going to

my front porch,
storm-sitting perch.
Attending, as if

a courtier, to
the showy pomp
& circumstance of

a storm’s arrival.
But remain prostrate.
Wondering which

thunderstorm this is,
this March night
of my seventh decade.


My hundredth? My
thousandth? How
many thunderstorms are

we allotted in an
average mortal life?
And what of the

storms preceding
hominid life? What beasts
looked up, pricked

their ears, cowered, or
twitched their noses at
the scent of ozone,

left by thunder cracks,
lightning’s perfume. Who
pondered, awake,

restless and maybe
afraid, too, of the
cataclysmic skies,

10,000 thunderstorms
ago? And comfort,
too, it should be said.

Illustration from a photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash


Why so violent
a thing as jagged
bolts of livid energy,

separating the
sky in half, maybe
piercing to the

heartwood of
an ancient tree,
leaving smoke

and ash and fire
behind — why,
exactly, does this

grumble and flash
cause my toes to
curl. To draw the

covers to my chin,
feel my partner’s
heated body and

feel safe? Did
such a storm,
10,000 back — no,

say, 100,000
storms ago,
cast down from

heaven’s vault
a blazing spear of
fire, which my

ancestor, yours, too,
not too far descended
from the trees &

African savanna,
ran and braved
to grab.


First flame of the
proto-human race.
And all that such

a legacy bequeathed
the centuries since.
So, that the

quaking sky is
not so fearful,
since our

ancestral memory
cherishes those
times, Prometheus-like,

the howling, purring,
cracked-open sky
left a gift behind.

huntington wv | march 26. 2021


PHOTOPOEM: “When Hay Bales Speak to You”: Let’s talk hay bales. I have, perhaps like you, been spying hay bales most all my life. Yet, in all that time haven’t met a hay bale. Up close. The other day, I had my chance.

POEM: The Flavor of Grief: I have been getting familiar lately with the flavor of grief. It comes on me with no warning. While driving up-river, to shelter-in-Nature. At 68 mph, passing a too-slow, white Chevy truck.

POEM: “Window No. 1”: One of my earliest, notable windows was in the basement bedroom I shared with brother Rick. It opened to the left, sliding open with a satisfying ‘chonk!’ Revealing the level grass of our backyard.

PICTURE|POEM: A Dozen Ways to Look at Chicago, Illinois: I’ve always been intrigued by human whose lives are lived just below the level of the clouds. They surround us by the thousands. In blue rooms, staring at TVs in their skyboxes. Doing Downward Facing Dog,

POEM | “My Paragraph & I”: ‘I want my paragraph to strut, carved cane in hand, the Left Bank, like a proper boulevardier. I want my paragraph to wow you. leave you wanting more. To, if possible, make you gasp.

POEM | “Body of Evidence”” ‘I’d no excuse not to grok the fact, or traffic in illusions of not growing old. Or denial of encroaching senescence. Or flipping the bird at Mister Death. It would halt nothing of my body’s fade, of our decay. I was, perhaps, whistling past my future graveyard.’

POEM | “Nous Celeron”” ‘Don’t you, Nous Céleron,/wish to lay down your arms?/Enter the Ohio’s cool darkness,/or the Chinodahichetha!/Sounding out each syllable/as a Wyandotte/might utter them …’

POEM | The Pledge: We must imagine/a better country, after/the orange man in/the white house. Tote/our losses & our/wounds. Revelations/about our neighbor’s/secret selves. The sign,/the flag, rippling in/the wind. That says—/’Off with your head’ ….

POEM | “Fridays”: I mark out my life in the passage of a flood of Fridays, the signposts zooming by in Friday cat posts by a favorite blogger.

Poems: A Hundred Years of Silence: It should be recalled/most of human history/has been lived in silence.

PORCH POEMS: ‘Ms. Nature & Mr. Death’: So, my day, which when fortunate,/begins with coffee, cat, and dawn,/shifts at some point, to the deck, for some sitting beneath the same old sky,/only this time, eyes closed./Climbed up on the shore, out of thetumultuous stream of thought./I’ve yet to grasp the meaning/of your collaboration, Ms. Nature,/with your ally, Mr. Death.’

PORCH POEMS: ‘Overhead’: ‘The clouds don’t care,’/ he said. Blowing a puff/ of cigar smoke at me/ from across the porch./ I sent a pretty good/ smoke ring back his way./ We were not/ six feet apart, so could/ be killing each other, should/ the virus hitch a ride upon our exhalations …

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