You Loot, We Shoot

After the hurricane,
after the hotel weeks of sharing beds
and washing dishes in the bathroom sink,
and a go-see of our house in ruins,
the thought sunk in and held
like shrimp boots in the muck--mother, brother,
husband, and two sons--nowhere to stay.
Many nights, my heart flashed
a mad pulse as I wove the loom of half-truths
that landed us a rental month to month.

In Beau Chene, behind their upscale gates,
they wondered at us. Instead of smiling
as they swept their porches, the neighbors
aimed spray-painted plywood signs
our way: you loot, we shoot.
Overnight, the motion lights went up,
triggered by a breeze. Their dogs left turds.
All season, the charade unraveled,
and we four adults with a single key
bore their snubs, rearranged our cars--
eternally disordered, it seemed--
in the horseshoe drive.

Mornings I left for the hardware store,
or for work, and almost forgot
my temporary life, that I would return
at dusk, a suspect through the gates,
to a two-story brick with no welcome mat
and left-behind furnishings. We slept
on air mattresses in the workout room,
the Stairmaster a stand for my lamp
without a shade, and sometimes
downstairs, where it was cooler.

For Halloween we went as hobos
elsewhere, to streets that welcomed us.
The kids rode trikes in the garage
and I had myself convinced
that I could write a poem in the formal
dining room--all sea foam and mirrors--
by pulling the toy piano bench
to the card table and turning my back
on the world outside.
forthcoming from the University of Akron Press in October of 2007 to join her other
The Zydeco Tablets (2002) and three prize-winning chapbooks, the most
Endowment of the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and her poems have been
published in
Poetry, Ploughshares and The Southern Review.