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Alison Hurwitz

The Weather Retort


I tell you thunder belly, cumulonimbus inner ear. Roil of pressure rising.

You reply insipid drizzle, muggy dew point skinned with gnatty scum.

You’re a supercilious mistral, stale windbag full of fug, shallow oil-slick

of a puddle. Don’t try diluting me to scattered showers, dismissed as just

some fitful tempest in a china cup. You ask if I’ve tried clear skies and common sense?

Batten down your stale toupée. No one wants to sniff your rehatched whiff, the dank

that underarms your ego. You’ve only seen my leading edge. In the calm before,

you could have sensed a supercell, a flanking line, an anvil, yet you never took

the time to overcast your eyes. Don’t you dare go back and diagnose me

with precipitation after rain is drenching down, advise that I should

see someone for my convective complex. Shut your

ornamental shutters. Tornado’s on its way.

This storm is coming in.



How to Go Out for a Drink


Walk in wearing hindsight, liquid liner, mirror glaze.

Keep shoulders down, each cuticle pushed back. Do not

drum the bar or slouch or twitch or cross your arms.


Someone will watch you suck stray whisps of nothing

through a technicolor straw. Bubble every adjective. Lip gloss

your conversation. No one will know you’re filled with boiling oil.


Use some snarky name you write across a napkin

when he asks: Terri Buldate. Shea Monhim. Ana Lias.

Phone number starting 555. Learn to smile while swallowing


stones. Prune bonsai with your teeth. Fill a pond with koi,

glance up, then drop your eyes and look away as ripples spread.

Rake each grain of sand until concentric circles wall around


a central stone. Now, deny the stone. Glue your poise

in place. Your eyelashes. Keep keys in hand, a razor filed

between your breasts. Ask for an Angel Shot, wingstripped.


When you leave, you’ll stir denuded feathers. Watch

them swirl in eddies at your feet, following your footfalls

as the door swings closed. Every echo, a plucked string.



Emergence Is Catching


Everywhere, the tunneled holes of sap-drunk cicadas,

their dormancy at last complete, emerging from

the warming earth. They surface, shed their

duller subterranean skin while all around them

air grows thick with rainstick thrums and chirrs

and tymbal music, drum bodies hollowed, quivering

on fences, branches, anywhere that they can vibrate,

venting thirteen years of pent-up lust. Males shake and rattle

like a brood of randy windup toys, scratching flint

to tinder with such fervor that I wouldn’t be

surprised if you and I, in listening, did not

wet our lips, did not also pulse and loosen,

shiver into buzz and turgid call, response

of mouth and parted thigh,

find what is winged and ready, fly.


In November, rains filled ruts to slosh galoshes,

an uphill slog which suctioned every step, while

smaller waterfalls rushed down guttered edges. Returning

home red-nosed, bedraggled and mud-spattered, you’d be

soaked beyond the bone; cheeks pricked rose by cold.


January meant you watched your step, searched out

the places made uneven, where ice would not upheave you.

How you loved the crunch it made, the sound of splintered

frozen water, the way you had to stomp its dredges on the mat,

dance Flamenco till the blood returned to burn and pulse your toes.


April murmured slowly up the street, first snow-dropped,

crocused, then azaleaed, profuse with all the tiny wilder blooms

for which you didn’t have a name. The path, which had in winter

been a hazard, now became a place of opening: thistle, sweet pea,

moss, forget-me-not. Every step ascending into pilgrimage.


The city paved it five years past, tarred it straightened, smooth.

It’s safer now, they say, for mud and ice, less dusty in the summer.

In your chest, a weighted hollow. Now, there is no rhythmic variation

up the hill, no rattling ascent before the car pulls in, no moment when

you stir and see your word for childhood winding through the trees.



Alison Hurwitz is a former cellist and dancer who now finds music in language. A two-time 2023 Best of the Net nominee, she is the founder/host of the monthly online reading Well-Versed Words. Widely published, Alison’s work is upcoming in Sky Island Journal, South Dakota Review, and South Florida Poetry Journal. When not writing, Alison officiates weddings and memorial services, takes singing lessons, walks in the woods, and dances in her kitchen. Find more at


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