three storms, three years.  a numbered song, in the style of post-Katrina blues.

_______

1. okay

i’m okay, she says to reassure me

or herself or maybe both of us, i’m packing up

my clothes and books into

a suitcase, and leaving with friends

tomorrow.  this time

she’s not going to wait for buses that don’t come and sit

in stadiums with the taste of

desperation rising acrid at the back

of her throat.

________

2.  your number’s up

the second person I call when I see the

red-eyed warnings is my best friend since seventh grade,

since there were two and a half days when

I didn’t know where she was, numbers unanswered, cell phones

down and land (lines) underwater.  now she’s hoping

once again that this won’t be a category three

since the levees couldn’t even survive one. please god

or lady luck or whoever it is

slinking through the aboveground graveyards tonight, don’t

cash in on this city’s few remaining chips

not just yet

________

3. pregaming the storm

an ounce each of

vodka

gin

rum

amaretto

triple sec

half a shot of 151

pineapple juice

and enough grenadine to turn it red

soon we’ll all be so hammered it won’t hurt

the conscience when we hope some other

poor bastards on a distant part

of the coast will bear the brunt instead.

________
Coda: season

buying groceries, I see the section with notebooks, binders, pencils

and remember that

it’s that time of year again, the buses

crammed with high-schoolers eagerly exchanging

months of news, while the evening air here

has just started to turn crisp.  but all I can think is

there’s bath-warm water down there in the Gulf, wild winds

churn restless at the fading of summer

and I don’t want to lose sleep over weather reports

unreturned phone calls

emergency evacuations

it’s hurricane season, better roll out my tarp and stock up on water

and chocolate.  we’re gonna need it.

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