A cricket lives outside my door. We converse about dreams I will travel tonight that I might sleep well.
Once upon a time sand dollars and horseshoe crabs washed on the beach long before skyscrapers built resort deluxe condominiums. Bankrupt before windows are never installed. All for the back weary traveler carpet for the feet so the step is soft, ice chests full of children.
I see you now laughing at the mad water dripping off my chin. Swaths of excavated dunes and stucco colonials. The tide undercutting my feet, sinking in the barren, pastel sands of Padre Island. Once this sand a backdrop to myriad collage. Testament to the living infinity of invertebrates scorned, until, only fiddler crabs remained in small quiet holes. The oil refineries cleaned their hulls seven miles out where they said the whole world began. The ocean is everything merchants dreamed of clean sand Saragosa weed sea lice sting rays man o’ wars jelly fish shells alchemized to thick sparkling globs of tar.
It was appropriate that a trip
to survey the devastation of New Orleans
begins with the train striking
an aging man in a truck,
the blood red, and death fresh.
Now we six hours late.
The passengers already
relenting to the drunk
I need a smoke man. Trapped in here
like rats and caint leave. Six hours and no
food! Hmmm, worse than jail.
The middle of the crawfish farm.
The police. The sheriff. Constables. Union Pacific.
The train’s mourning rights.
None of us had any intention of killing the man.
I hate the stupid cell phone
you got me for Christmas.
I wanted a laptop with a screen
saver. You still better buy me the rest,
all the games. Everything.
She is four with starving eyes,
thinning with each word.
Her mother, drunk and powerless,
inherited ash in the mouth. An elder
three rows back says, don’t you know
that is your mother? She loves
you, child. You better not let me hear
you talking that again or I’ll hop
Arriving in the deep wet night
a milky green fever coils in my shoulders.
Crickets claim louder than the city,
Silt from centuries ago
living bison herd passenger pigeon
giant panther old carved trunks.
Broken bottles on thresholds
stone gargoyles excruciating tongues
Architecture: the externalized fear of inside.
The observation strikes me
none of the buildings are scalable.
Not a foothold or window for twenty feet,
might as well be pyramids with greased sides.
The architects expected a riotous swale
and settled for the flood.
Is that a bronze statue holding a lantern at the federal building?
The eternal flames of Lee’s spire replaced by beleaguered palms faltering in their pots.
Oh all the boys are here! Henry Clay!
They held their breath terrible long
sought no shelter during the storm.
Statues keenly polished.
How many times I unsuspecting
walked into the ambush, or as they say,
Shooting fish in a barrel.
Los Angeles. New York. Houston.
San Francisco. Chicago. Atlanta. Dallas.
No one had a chance.
I know you can’t stand your neighbors
but that’s all that will be left.
Do you here the machine gun rattle of helicopter blades
or are they making bombs?
Yes I did nothing. I could not watch the TV.
I have no money.
They are my bombs falling from the sky.
My democracy starves the world.
My righteousness my security.
What did I see?
All futures squandered on frustration
blessing the streets once again with vomit and urine.
Pale, morning-after faces of the deflated aristocracy.
Notorious arrogance of plate glass
dining while their city suffocates.
Incandescent smut, I should not say that, I
respect and admire the female body
especially when she is encouraged to spread
herself for all passer-bys
sucked-dry eyes staring, yet sexily at anyone. What?
That’s my sister.
Morning boo, what can I get you? The waitress asks.
Yes, you spirit-child.
The only chance this whole place
I see you burning up the diner
a grin and quick game, that good-home
talk like grandma or the cousin you love.
Right when the heel is ground into the back of skull.
The same nonchalance, as extinguishing a cigarette.
Smile. Nothing can break that.
How can you argue?
We all connected
Oil in your One,
Coalash in your One.
Trey Moore is a fourth generation carpenter and poet born in San Antonio. He teaches poetry in elementary and middle schools, homeless shelters, drug courts, libraries, and juvenile detention centers. Co-Founder and Director of PART an environmental arts action group, this work was part of Split This Rock and has begun collecting stories and oral interviews from men and women in the coalfields of Kentucky. Winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Contest, his collection, we forget we are water, was published by Wings Press in 2006 and positively reviewed by The Red Wheelbarrow (UK, 2008). His first full length collection, Some Will Play the Cello, was published by St. Mary’s University’s Pecan Grove Press in 2010.