It was never a flud, they got it all rong.

It wus a heetwave.  Who ever herd of a flud

in the desert?  As if we wud hav minded.

We didn’t pich up on that peek to keep dry

but cool.  You cant imagin the heet.

It rold in like invisibal fire, like lions breth.

Never mind an eg you cud fry a stake

on a rok, and in the shade.  Sandals smoked

with every step You had to wair 2 pairs

and even then run. Sleeping – a nitemare,

a joke.  The only way to lie down was to souse

yor bed every our with water – warm water –

if you culd find it.  Who wonts to shlep

to the well and bak 6 times a nite?

For shlep I mean skip.  Forget dreems

Dreems evaporated before they cud reach us.


We took to a cave.  It wus cool as a buchers

at ferst.  Cudnt beleev our luk, problem solvd,

wed wate it out.  We hung blankits over the mouth

to keep out the sun.  Then dusnt the erth

heet up round us like an uven.  The place turnd

into a bakers.  The animals started showing up,

limping, wining.   The lions came ferst and purd

at the blankits.  I let them in.   The lady nuzzled

my elbow, likt my hand with that scraper-

tung of hers.  She drew blud but didnt meen to

and never came bak for  mor.  they straggled

past our pots and rugs, curld up in the caves dark.

After that we cul hardly refuse the rest.


In they cum, 2 by 2 trew enuff.

Grunt, grumbles, grones.  Mones and mews

wines and wimpers.  Cluks, chirrups,

werring, buzzes, wissals, flooting.

Piping, worbling, fluttering, droning,.

Berps, farts, sies –  you name it we herd it.

the cave fild with the gurgels of a milion

small slumbers.   Youd tink it wudve stunk

but the mingled odors of a million beests

was sweet to the nostrel like a bloom of flours.

And the dung? Strange but there wus nun.


The sky ternd yellow.  We stopt eeting.

The apetite dusnt do well at that heet.

We neither slept or woke.  Ime no hero

but sumthing had to be dun.  So I organize

the boys.  We lit a fire outside, wated til

the coles glowed then herded the lot strate out

onto them.  The trik is wuns hteyve been over

those coles theg round dusnt seem so hot.

A quik shok and you can handel anything.

Shem led the way: up the hill as fast

as we cud.  A din of bleedings and bellows

such as never herd before, up we gallop,

drumming that smoking ground – a caravan

of ansesters herling it self up the mountin.


We capt the peek up there like a nippal.

It wasn’t exactly cool but we had a chance.

The sky wus blew agen for I thing.

Down below all you cud see wus yellow fog.

No ground, no hills.  We hung on to our iland of air.

So cleer up there, cleer as a shaving mirrer.

You hav a good long look at yourself

at a time like that.  I didn’t like wot I aw:

greed and mor greed.  Iternal diatisfaction.

Therst does funny things to you.

I even wept.  I had no teer of corse.

but I felt the rivulets of dust on my cheek

like guttermarks on brik. I felt rite to weep.


Its trew a duv flew up to us.  A spek

shivring in the haze below, it flapt it self

into shape like a mirage cuming up

from the fog.  It lit on my sholder,

put its beek to my eer to wisper sumthing –

the sweetest messige ever herd.

Tho I cudnt make it out at ferst,

not until I put my finger in my eer.

I drew it out cool: a drop of water

bellying on the end of it.  I tried to shout

the news but my throte wudnt make a sound.


The first drops streemd, sizzled and stung.

By then I didn’t no if any I in the sprall

of flesh wus alive still.  But as the rain fell

I herd mones and yelps all round, a crazy

dog barkt up at the thunderheds

in a rage, a fox howled, the frogs flooted

like an organ.  Neks rose like plant stems.

Wite clouds bloomd up from the yellow fog.

I cried wen I saw them.  I new we had wun.

That’s the trooth.  I never got my voice bak

so I cudnt put rite the talk of fluds.

Not until I lernt pen and ink.  And I wus

sixty when it happened not 6 hundred.

If I liv to 2 hundred Ile be happy.  A drop

just fell on my page.  I luv the rain.  who dusn’t.

Anuther drop.  Like littal berrees, spattrings

of juce wair they hit my ink.  I let them be.

Be the teers I cudn’t cry.  The lords dew.


Henry Shukman



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