Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Rain in New Orleans. Four Poems

Phillip Good


i.  We sat in the gazebo
Listening to the rain;
Heard the rustle
  of a thousand tiny scales,
Saw it moving,
Like a boa constrictor,
Though the trees.

ii.  They said we couldn't get out.
And no one would drive us
But that was stupid;
Because you could get out,
And Violet led while I carried Peggy
Three miles to safety on the levee.

iii.  They've always had a problem
With the burial grounds
Being below sea level.
They tell the story
Of one cantankerous river man,
A riverboat gambler, retired,
Who set out for sea three times
After they'd laid him to rest.
They had to put him in a lead casket,
Finally, with silver handles.
He fancied that, I imagine,
Being the sort of dude he was.

iv.  In the first days of the City
The rain brought the plague's corpses to the surface
Carved swamps for mosquitoes,
Brought death and the smell of death.

Just for a joke,
My friend left a lump of sugar
On his balcony.
He watched the rain eat it away;
Day after day he watched it.
After awhile, you'd have thought
His spirit was in that sugar

The remarkable thing
(They tell me)
Is that persons of a certain stripe
Will
After a long, dreary spell of rain
(But not until the sun has come out
The earth bright green holds
A rainbow in each gutter drop)
Die by their own hand.

***

A footnote to the author's text, Common Errors in Statistics and How to Avoid Them, p35, notes that he told his wife he was a poet, as telling her he was a statistician would have been a definite turnoff. Can a Canadian be a "Southern" writer? The author frequented the Tulane University cafeteria (where these poems were written) for almost four years while acquiring a doctorate at Berkeley.

© Phillip Good

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012