Tuesday, September 13, 2005

38. Dirge for New Orleans (excerpt #1)

by Martin Bento

1. Nathan's Story

The hammerhead cruises Bourbon Street at night
Its blunt head abruptly shifts
With no regard for rhythm
It sniffs cantankerous at saxophones
Swallows whole the fast-food meals
Gumbo and rice in styrofoam

The delicate feet of the alligators
Grope downwards through the water
Quickly learn the crevices of awnings
The gators accumulate on the larger buildings
And gather new rumors of food

Nathan Tillman has seen no alligators
Sharks in the waters are still
Dark rumors
Nathan's aerobed® lies soft against his skin
So soft it threatens to give in
And release him to the bottom

His body is wrenching for water
He's had none in almost two days
And water surrounds him
Water surrounds him, but it reeks
Of gasoline and sewage
Cadavers, alcohol and chemical spills

Its skin is a patina of dead chickens and cooking grease
Christmas tree balls, bubble wrap, plastic bottles, voodoo baubles
Popsicle sticks, puffed rice cereal -
Cereal, my God, food -
Human or dog feces
And the endlessly breeding mosquitos

The arches of McDonald's® are visible
Above the water
The grocery store, he knows, is about 40 feet away
Through the water he can see the top of the building
Maybe three feet down

He clenches his face and unloads himself
How can he keep the mattress from floating off?
He must deflate it, knowing that means
He must blow it up again, by mouth
As he did this morning
When it is time to escape

Hellicane category: SURVIVORS' Tales

1 comment:

The PodPoet said...

I was waiting for someone to write a piece about the bizarre news story regardng the shark seen swimming down Bourbon Street -- and here it is! A fine, creative poem; I look forward to seeing the ensuing parts.