Sunday, August 31, 2008

164. Swollen Cotton


by Byron Bogard - Rhea's Mill, Arkansas

I'd been asleep for a long, long time before that
torrent of ice water woke me. One hundred and fifteen
years I had slept. The great old oak in St. Louis
Cathedral lay on the ground. Where Casius had asked
me about forever, there lay a bloated corpse wearing
one shoe and a plaid blanket.

I found Bourbon Street. Where they had marched me
down to an old jazz song about wandering saints, there
was nothing left but twisted signs and a cicadas
shedding last year's clothes on a pile of brick.

This city that kept me alive after sticking me in
the ground all those years ago, seemed dead. It
appeared the fires of Hell had taken up residence on
the mighty river. I could see the sins of so many
floating like demonic soot to be baptized in the
Gulf.

In despair, I wept. I feared this old city, this
place that had kept the sins and pleasures of so many
men since Acadia, had vanished; as if an over-ripened
ball of cotton had exploded into the sinews of this
great country.

One hundred and fifteen years ago I went to sleep
under the belly of this great land. I bore the guilt
and pleasures of annual harvests flowing like
riverboats down the Mississippi. I tasted the wine,
grain and gunpowder that seeped through the cypress.

I am awake now. The cicadid's shell hangs on a
swinging sign. We ask if you will still send your harvest.

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