The Driest Place on Earth

Shanna Compton
I watched in horror as the man hung
half a pig by a hook in the window.

Nearby, the sea shone or something.
Nearby, the wingspan of a hawk cast an elongated shadow.

I listened with horror to the words I was missing.
A wrongness was growing in the living moon.

& nearby, the sea rolled endlessly.
Nearby, the saw grass peered through the grit & preened.

I've never been to Florida. Louisiana however
is second skin of mind, a habit-habitat.

& Texas on the way there, the red soil 
& black boars, the frankly haunted pines

lone men in pickups fishing
for nothing they intend to catch.

& nearby, the sea froths over the edge.
& nearby, the sea.

Nearer & nearer
the obliterating sea

More by Shanna Compton

Back in Seaside

Rain interchangeable with
the walls it falls against
alphabetless like a neon
ring above an extincted
window showcasing something
formerly fabulous now
kinda poignantly disappeared.
I guess that means we're back
in Seaside (since we must
begin somewhere) and it's
probably summer but
can't be as long ago
as the date you suggest
since I wouldn't have been
born, or quietly gagging
at the sentence re: photographs
being "fairly far removed" from
sculpture anyway belied by
a euthanized block
of period tract housing
the loading dock's pair
of refrigerated trucks
the guileless curbs below
the blandishing panes
of all those plate windows
the corrugated doors
rolled shut against a
statement the curves
of the cars as they
throw back their throats
to the light the furtive
things people do in the night
(or don't do) bluely
compiled screen by screen
in perfervid surveillance
I just want to say yes
to you, yes and
watch this.

Panoramic View

Last week Mars suddenly got a lot closer.
It used to be the place we'd throw out
as impossible, utterly unreachable, so red
and foreign and sere. Not anymore.
And I'm trying to figure out why watching
the panorama makes something in the hot core
of me crumple like a swig-emptied can,
intoxicating though it may be, vibrant
with out-of-this-world color like the whole thing's
a sand painting, a dimensional mandala
some galactic monk took her sweet time pouring
freehand, blowing on it between sips of her tea,
ruffling up the most dramatic of its rumpled crests.
It's bluer than I thought, attained. Like most things
I wish we could take back.

Related Poems

Our Lady of the Flood

               Louisiana, August 2016

Lady, is that you, with a citronella halo,
ghosting the mud-milk waters
with a laundry basket of kittens in one arm?
You are no mythic Saint Medard, sheltered
from rain beneath an eagle’s wing,
but a hands-on angel of the earthly kind—
sweaty, with a burden of buckets and bleach,
surefooted through labyrinths of debris.
You take meals in church parking lots,
thankful for whatever is served.
Some saints are untouchable behind glass,
but you ride in open boats
with mildew on the hem of your gown,
a calm commander of the Cajun Navy’s fleet.
Your devotees worship outside
in a circle of ruined pews,
no incense but bug spray, their voices
a capella because the music of the drowned piano
is too sad to sing to. They remain faithful
because you are the one constant,
honored in front gardens and kitchen shrines.
You with your shrimp boots and rubber gloves—
without flinching you lead and they follow,
walking on water to the safety of each other.