STEVEN D. SCHROEDER
Forty days and nights of rain
was more than Portland, less than this.
The seaweed strandline rose and rose
by degrees on the thermometer
outside our greenhouse, soon to be
Guinness-certified the world’s biggest.
The rain wouldn’t be contained
in moat, and liquid fortification
sandbagged nothing but our throats
when the river leveled up
to overrun its levees. It caused
cost overruns on our wetland sets
and shut down shooting.
We dammed it, but not strong enough
damnation to hold hell in for long.
While our bellwether log-flume slide
felt underneath the weather,
the rain grew taller than how tall
children needed to be to ride the ride,
at which point it decapitated a kid.
We created a prototype hybrid
of wood seaplane and glass-bottom boat
that passed field tests. The subsequent
“submersible” disaster, we agreed,
was unforeseeable because the rain fell
in our eyes. The last bridge
project, straight from mainland
into bay, had always ended
that way but now finished faster
than the sun in Sunday. We separated
rain from drop and bow and cloud,
yet it resurfaced with curtains, carpet
bomb and hydrochloric acid.
Wastewater byproducts spilled over
a vast millwheel—after splashdown,
we couldn’t haul the whole ocean
back up the pulley-and-bucket system
of our perpetual motion machine.
The name meant empty hand.
The name meant divine wind.
The name meant no boys allowed
to read about it could dream
good or bad without it.
No man who said it aloud
got it quite right or sounded unlike
a dinosaur. Oh man, we fit inside
its braincase, and it in our heads.
While hidden in its own shadow,
it roared from zero to sixty
million years in charge.
Still, who guessed the ability to fly
stealth fighters from China
or dust an asteroid crater?
The name meant no. The name
meant trouble. The name meant
to fit us for leg irons. Why deny
the call to arms, however
vestigial or avian? Its army wanted
one with icepick thumbs,
one with ceramic camo armor,
one who wore a feathered fedora,
a funny one, a tiny one,
a nameless one, a woman
one, a gangster and a monster
and a minister’s son, and one
who encompassed all of the above
plus a slingshot and a grin.
The name meant ringleader.
The name meant jungle warfare
sunk in quagmire. The name meant
threats muttered under the bed.
First it made its entire body a fist
of fists and turned its tail
to a cat o’ nine tails. Fatted, we fit
the mouth if the teeth assisted.
It fit the spring-loaded sheath
of that terrible, terrible claw.