Wednesday, June 5, 2013
For the Victims of the Belvidere Tornado, 4/21/1967
When Hercules tore the horn from the river god
Before the harvest could be washed away,
The cornucopia -- benign tornado -- spilled
Its yield of grain, gourd, and fruit as the cloud
Of Achelous's rage began to twist and sway.
The next day twenty-four farmers were killed.
The funnel's path, cut by the bull's remaining horn,
Left nothing but the uprooted, scattered, and torn.
They say the sun died and the sky turned green,
That the god's roar was a detonation of spleen.
Hercules was never seen in those parts again.
Did he run or was he ground into human grain?
The one-horned bull rages on, rivers overflow.
No hero's left to rip from him the tornado.
Note: The victims of the Belvidere tragedy were not farmers,
but mostly town residents, thirteen of them children; but,
for the purpose of the poem, which is based on mythology,
"farmers" was more consistent. Click and hold on the image
to see Benton's remarkable mural in greater detail.