ALISON PELEGRIN


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.
CAVE WALL PRESS, LLC
Alison Pelegrin's most recent collection of poems, Big Muddy River of Stars, is
forthcoming from the University of Akron Press in October of 2007 to join her other
collections--
The Zydeco Tablets (2002) and three prize-winning chapbooks, the most
recent of which is
Squeezers. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National
Endowment of the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and her poems have been
published in
Poetry, Ploughshares and The Southern Review.