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  • By Carey Jobe

The Weathermen of Atlantis


1


The king was in his usual

bad humor, the court gossips tittled.

In the drafty audience hall, the weathermen

trembled. In minutes they must explain.

They must predict. The sky was blue,

so clear far mountaintops, bizarrely white

folds crimping the crisp skyline, glowed

on buildings blanched as desert bones.

No two days had been alike.

Today was sunny. Yesterday drizzled.

The day before, crowds witnessed the first

flurries in the capital for decades

accompanied by abnormally high tides. Sporadic

earthquakes rocked outlying provinces.

The merchants were fuming. Farmers suffered.

All blamed the king. The king, in turn,

had summoned his clutch of weathermen.

To correctly prognosticate meant prosperity,

the weathermen knew. Wrong as this the axe.


2


Middle of their pre-audience jitters,

the cleverest, a mellifluous fellow who’d dabbled

in real estate, now selling sky futures, proposed

a speech that pleased a great many.

“Tell the king

what’s worked before. Weather’s the mood of the gods.

These days, they can’t compose their humor

for blessings or for punishments. Forecasts of us?

We probe the turbulent entelechy of

celestial beings in turmoil? Greatness,

that’s the single sacrilege

beyond the audacity of impious humankind.

Tell him that. We can divine today:

the chill blue of drained emotions, wrung dry and cold.

Tomorrow? Next week, next year? Uncertain, majesty!

Sin is somewhere about. What other reason?

Kill us? Best practice virtue. Oh king,

morality at the top works miracles!

Crops, contracts, rains, wars, marriages depend on it!”


One blurted, “Say we don’t know the weather!

We’re only entertainers.” The whole hall guffawed—which eased

everyone’s butterflies.


3


Meantime, outdoors, earth’s pores yawed:

in wagon ruts, in potholes,

muddy puddles turned blue, rich deep oceanic blue,

stretched out to each other, began to join.

Where headland dove, precipitously, to ocean

waves frothed, spraying the tallest rocks.

Terns, sensing shift, gathered in skittery flocks,

intent elsewhere, abandoning unhatched eggs.


Above squalls of gusty sunlight

cirrus, like phosphorus,

incandesced, paled in sun.

Gales whiffled in spring-green leaves.


To trumpets, the king strode in.


4


“Eternity, good weather

is right around the corner…”


“…Ask us

to peer into celestial intellects…?”


“…Bid your priests divine the future. Majesty, we

are men of science.”


“…By today’s weather,

the chill blue of drained emotions, wrung dry and cold.”


“Kill us for not knowing…”

The same one cracked:

“Admit we don’t know…!”


Another, louder, “A question

of fronts, high pressure, zones of turbulence…!”


Charts, graphs, blossomed from folds of robes…


The king blinked, his outrage baffled.


…Thus, like any engulfed by a force too vast

for exegesis, charged with expounding it,

the weathermen raised a flurry, arcane vocabulary

and benumbing rite—meteorology which, as forecast,

fuddled the king (too shamefaced

to admit, even to himself, he was hearing

rank blather, nonsense), who let them off,

Pillars of Atlantis.


5


As the sweating weathermen filed out of the palace,

loaded with gifts and enormously relieved,

a few glanced up—noiselessly, almost

imperceptibly, a cool drizzle

was beginning…

…By morning,

(after what a night!) a lone tower’s pennants

flapped, barely tip-topping

the brilliance of endless ocean.


6


By noon, every gull flew on.


Carey Jobe is a retired attorney and judge who has published poetry over a 45-year span. His work has recently appeared in The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Sparks of Calliope, and The Society of Classical Poets. He has authored a volume of poetry, By River or Gravel Road, and is currently working on a second collection. He lives and writes in the lush landscape south of Tallahassee, Florida.

2 Comments


ajsedia
Nov 18, 2023

This poem was both amusing both in its self-contained irony and in its sadly-too-accurate portrayal of our current situation -- and the eternal human foible of believing "everything will be fine" because things seem comfortable now. I also appreciate how the Atlantis legend never gets exhausted. There's always a new twist to be had, as this poem illustrates.

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Guest
Nov 08, 2023

An interesting and original portrayal of the theme of the gullible ruler duped by unscrupulous bureaucrats. Now the evening weather forecast will never sound the same again! Sounds at first like free verse, but the poem on closer look is loosely metrical. Poetical satire is hard to write well--not a perfect poem, but on the whole brought off well.

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