Ruth Aylett – Twelve Days on the Beaufort Scale

Twelve Days on the Beaufort Scale

Zero: Calm.
Smoke rises vertically
Politicians slumber happily

One: Ripples without crests.
Smoke drift indicates wind direction.
People laugh at comedians’ critical jokes

Two: Small wavelets.
Wind felt on exposed skin. Leaves rustle.
Social media circulate spontaneous critical jokes

Three: Large wavelets, scattered whitecaps
Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended
Small groups meet to plan protest events

Four: Small waves with breaking crests.
Dust and loose paper raised. Small branches begin to move
Spontaneous but short-lived occupations take place

Five: Many whitecaps
Branches of a moderate size move. Small trees in leaf begin to sway
A million people turn out for a TUC demonstration in London

Six: White foam crests are very frequent.
Large branches in motion. Whistling heard in overhead wires. Empty plastic bins tip over
Politicians call for firm action against foreign agitators

Seven: Some foam from breaking waves is blown into streaks along wind direction
Whole trees in motion. Effort needed to walk against the wind
A million people appear on streets in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow

Eight: Moderately high waves with breaking crests
Cars veer on road. Progress on foot is seriously impeded
Temporary barricades on public streets are torn down

Nine: Dense foam is blown along wind direction
Construction/temporary signs and barricades blow over
More barricades are constructed. Politicians panic.

Ten: Very high waves with overhanging crests
Trees are broken off or uprooted, structural damage likely
Demonstrators occupy public places and march on Parliament

Eleven: Very large amounts of airborne spray severely reduce visibility
Widespread vegetation and structural damage likely
Troops fire live ammunition at demonstrators

Twelve: Sea is completely white with foam and spray
Debris and unsecured objects are hurled about
Troops mutiny. Governments are overthrown


Ruth Aylett teaches computing at Heriot-Watt University, wonders why we let the world go on as it does, and therefore feels compelled to write poems and short stories. She has been published by Red Squirrel Press, Poetry Scotland, Textualities, New Writing Scotland, Doire Press, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and others. More at


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