Will Wells


Sturm und Drang

(a poetry reading in Denney Hall)

Rain torrents punished windows like a lash
that would keep on beating until they cracked.
A siren sounded. The guest poet asked,
Time to look for shelter? So the host checked
her smart-phone oracle and said, It will pass.

Wind went keening through the red-brick tunnel
of lecture halls. There may’ve been a funnel
that never quite touched down. One poem channeled
Hamlet—although each gust insisted Lear.
The host lit up her phone again. Stay here.

A sonnet poked light-hearted fun at God.
Lightning crackled right on cue, and on the quad,
it clove the oldest oak. We felt the thud.
That vibration echoed in our bones and blood.
Phones shuddered violently to warn—Flash Flood.

The poet finished to polite applause.
Distant thunder clapped; the walks below still coursed
like mountain streams that tumbled from their source.
A reception followed with wine and cheese
as chain-saws rhapsodized, dismantling trees.

Will Wells has published several full-length poetry collections, most recently Unsettled Accounts, which won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published in 2010 by Ohio University/Swallow Press. An earlier volume won the Anhinga Prize. Wells has served as a fellow at various writers’ conferences, including the West Chester Poetry Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Bread Loaf, and Wesleyan. He has won two Ohio Arts Council Individual Artistic Excellence in Poetry fellowships (including in 2016), an NEA poetry fellowship, and four NEH translation fellowships, and served as Ohio Poet of the Year in 2010. His poems, including those in his completed (but not yet placed) collection, Odd Lots, Scraps & Second-hand, Like New, have appeared widely. He teaches English at an Ohio college.