January 17, 2013

Yellow Sky: Brandon Hobson


Brandon Hobson has a piece on tornadoes in The Paris Review Daily.

A week before the tornado outbreak in May of 1999, I attended my first Native American sweat with my friend A. J., a security guard and blackjack dealer at a Cheyenne-Arapaho casino located in the town of Concho. I’d known A. J. since eighth grade, when we used to smoke cigarettes and catch crawdads in the creek behind his grandfather’s house. His grandfather sat in a recliner and smoked a pipe and spent whole afternoons staring out the window. He talked to us about luck. Good luck, bad luck. He once told us to pay attention to wind and smoke. If wind drifted the smoke east, that meant good luck. But only east. Crows are good luck, he told us, because they fly high and carry prayers to the spirits, whereas owls are considered bad luck. Rain is good luck, but only when the sun is shining. Strong winds are good luck because they are personified as divine spiritual messengers. Even ridiculously high winds that bring down power lines and trees are still considered good luck, regardless of their destruction: the overall speed of wind is unimportant because many tribes look at the path of winds as the soul of a spirit sweeping across the land. I’ve never been much into superstitions, but listening to A. J.’s grandfather talk about all this when I was a kid made me realize this was some serious shit.


  1. Michael Grant Smith on January 17th, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Such great work. Tornado dreams. Thank you.

  2. Derek White on January 18th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Yes, nice. Two nights ago i dreamt i was back in Rome (i’m back in NYC in reality) & saw a tornado go by my window a few feet away, just like in Oz.I could see deep into the core of the tornado without feeling the effects.

  3. Sheila Ryan on January 18th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I like the talk of luck and chance in the context of tornadoes.

  4. Brandon on January 18th, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks, guys. I have sketches of the guy from my dreams. So, so weird.

  5. Sheila Ryan on January 18th, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Ooh, Brandon, you could post ’em here.

  6. Brandon on January 18th, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    If they weren’t so bad I probably would.