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My Swamp Time


I was barely surviving in Louisiana,
unpleasantly and unsuited,
a land as shifty, unstable,
as a drunken father,
where no frog, no gator,
ever took a vow of silence
on a long hot night,
where I couldn’t step outside my door
without some critter gnawing on my flesh,
and all in the name of
the one place I’ve yet to try;
it was all a mistake,
the rough half-bearded locals
told me with their red-streaked eyes,
the women my age told me
by living two years to my one;
so I fled the delta, fled the
12 billion mosquitoes per square mile,
the rotting cat guts in the drooping mangrove lanes,
the toxic prophecy of hissing snakes,
the present with the past hunched on its shoulders,
the future somewhere out there in the swamp,
murky, turgid, already happened;
I fled the seamy hotel
the mildewed windows, busted screen,
the broken toilet bowl,
the tiny sink where flowed dead water,
jumped in the cab
said “take me anywhere but here”;
dismal vegetation, gloomy marshland,
could hardly wait ’til I had left
to swallow my time there.


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