New Orleans—New York

by Carol Alexander

Red plums are the bodega’s daily special, at rot’s very verge.
Wednesday crowds flow over the hump
of bridge & tunnel traffic, delirious greasy smoke. The plums sag, well fingered.

Leaning from unscreened windows, children dump dishwater
on raku cement. At Greenwood, Brooklyn to Slidell, the drydocked are safely dead.

Opaline city, shrimpers spinning devils from the Gulf
the neighborhood mayors pontificating over eastern embanked towns
bungalow & high-rise peeling lemon curd. Roots transmit vegetal alarm.


Cellars stocked with snow chains, dark-eyed potatoes, cans of Valvoline.
Wandering the aisles for deliquescent plums & AA batteries
while lithe rivers lick at the island, its cotton-mouthed souls, you & you appear.

Weather gods with plumy hair, ambrosia in silken laps— strings invisibly plucked
music the wind’s sharps & flats: flakes of coconut sweeten the air

Bind them into a chorale—mud frog, feathered whirligig, bass tugboat.
Compound nouns (wine dark, dark-fall, dark red) are a lazy woman’s knack
but earth’s synaesthesia is the taste of fear, a bad, bad penny on the tongue.