Affliction Parish and Other Poems


Affliction Parish

The plant puffs a final cloud through nuclear
smokestacks. Under the numb of sunrise, our synapses

atrophied in sweet tea, we watch the floodwaters
seethe then recede and spit out our double-wides,


sprawled belly-up and helpless. The river’s no better,
it branches out, spins its slow arms loose


and tempts the gulf to come on in and swamp
the turbines. Hey there, gale force and heavy drizzle,


between dinner and supper we watch cotton balls
rot in their bolls. The pressure drops, some baby squalls


wash away everybody’s duck blinds
and righteous rage. We toss our empties


in parking lot weeds, find the drunken union rep
heel-drug and drowned in his optimism. Past the courthouse,


the sad single oil well churns its mud-butter.
Welcome, recovery task force, and whoops,


looks like you mistook our unemployment line
for a load-bearing wall, but why not? You need to rest


the new foundation on somebody’s bones, plus,
our sorry nuclei are always wrong.


The church shuts up early on payday, but we go in
anyway for bootleg faith and any remedy that peels us


for a minute from our wet skins and thunder counting.
Hello, trespass and B and E, pecans batter the squad car,


little fists of grief the trees shake down.
The prison gate clangs against its hinges,


somebody’s muffler chugs
Told you so, told you so, telling us so.
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