The Poem of the Week is 'Texas Tornadoes and the Power of Prayer' by Randy Horton

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Our Poem of the Week this time round is 'Texas Tornadoes and the Power of Prayer' by Randy Horton, a tale of small town apocalypse that beguiles us with its use of language and narrative. Randy foregoes traditional poetic form and delivers a short, sharp piece of foreboding dark comedy, needing only a few lines to transport us to the world he has created, where the 'sky is darker than Brother Jimmy’s sermon last Sunday'. Below, Randy answers our Q&A:


Where do you look most for inspiration for your poetry?

This month, I've enjoyed writing from the prompts for National Poetry Writing Month. 


Apart from poetry, what is one book you would recommend everyone read?

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume. 


What is your favourite style of poetry? Do you favour the constraints of sonnets and villanelle or the freedom of free-verse?

I write formal poetry for practice and discipline but usually veer toward free verse when being serious. I use rhymes for playfulness or comedy. 


If you could give one piece of writing advice to people what would it be?

Read a lot and then write a lot. 


What do you look for most in a poem?

I like poems that are either absolutely gut-wrenching (e.g., Sylvia Plath) or clever and funny (e.g., Billy Collins).



Texas Tornadoes and the Power of Prayer

by Randy Horton


Oh, Good Lord, y’all, I thank we better git in the house. That sky is

darker than Brother Jimmy’s sermon last Sunday, and it’s flashing like a

God-damned disco. It’s gonna be a gully washer, all right, but Ronnie’s

got the big truck if we git in any trouble, and we can surely trust Jesus

will be with us. The last time we had a toad strangler like this, a big ol’

twister turned Alma’s roof inta toothpicks.


They say on the news that Greens Bayou is outta its banks, so y’all

come on and let’s pray that God will watch over us. Come on in here away from those windows, and if you

hear sumpin’ that sounds like a train, let’s hide in this closet and trust Jesus to know what’s right.


Some time later:


It’s over, so y’all come on give us a hug. It just goes to show Jesus is always by our side, watchin’ over us

and protectin’ us. Uncle Raymond just called and said a tornado blew a tree on Bobby’s house and kilt him.

God bless his sweet soul.

◄ Poetry workshops: asking for advice about your poems

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Linda Cosgriff

Mon 13th May 2019 14:58

Sorry I'm so late to comment, Randy. Wonderful poem! As always. We're very lucky to have you at Stockport WOL.

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Randy Horton

Fri 19th Apr 2019 13:31

Thanks very much, Ray.

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Fri 19th Apr 2019 10:42

Hi Randy. I'm a great fan of dialects and speech patterns and this is a winner on that score alone - but the whole ethos of the piece is terrific. The simple belief systems brought to bear on the catastrophic natural events says so much about the American historical context.

I Enjoyed this immensely. Congratulations well earned for POTW.


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Randy Horton

Wed 17th Apr 2019 17:54

Thanks, Dorinda!

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dorinda macdowell

Wed 17th Apr 2019 16:33

Wonderful, Randy! Well done!

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 16th Apr 2019 12:03

I bet the American side of my family over in Louisiana would know
all about this aspect of living over there. Entertaining in its
vernacular and bang on the money in its descriptive effect..

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Randy Horton

Tue 16th Apr 2019 07:28

I really appreciate all the kind comments. In 1992 a cluster of tornadoes swept through my neighbourhood in Channelview, Texas (an industrial suburb east of Houston). About 750 homes were destroyed and many more, including mine, severely damaged. I heard story after story of people hiding in closets only to have 2x4 pieces of wood come within inches of their bodies.

Also, Jeff Foxworthy has a joke that says, "If you've ever been on TV describing how a tornado sounds like a freight train, you might be a redneck." I've heard them described that way many times.

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Martin Elder

Mon 15th Apr 2019 23:00

I simply love the words 'toad strangler' I also love the way you have written this in local dialect.
Marvellous Randy
Many congarulations

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keith jeffries

Mon 15th Apr 2019 21:15




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Jon Stainsby

Mon 15th Apr 2019 21:11

Congratulations, Randy

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Nicola Hulme

Mon 15th Apr 2019 14:48

Absolutely brilliant as always.

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Randy Horton

Mon 15th Apr 2019 09:57

Thank you very much.

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Stu Buck

Mon 15th Apr 2019 09:39

a worthy winner. one of those pieces that defies pigeon-holing and just exists as a self-contained world.

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