Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Tuesday. Always a day behind.
After the nap he showered off
all that was there he had paid for.
Downstairs she asked how he was now
and invited him back to have
dinner in her room some Sunday.
She repeated condolences
and he went out by the back door,
as he had entered, knocking first.
Waiting for the streetcar, he tried
to remember her name, couldn’t,
tried again before his stop came,
remembered names of some others,
but not hers. Suddenly Betsy

came to mind, Betsy was her name,
same as the hurricane that came
before years ago he left town
for good, he swore, but mother Nell
said, You’ll be back someday and I
will be the reason. That’s why Ray
was his only friend now, Rocky
was more like father than brother,
Ray had a mother when they met,
Betty’s red hair falling to her
slim hips, Juan’s black hair and black beard
shadowy in her radiance
in the after-hours club Ray knew,
where he said, You’re a liberal,

aren’t you? and back in The Saloon,
which Ray Fox said he’d never close,
Ray’s wife came up and Ray said so
many women he had loved all
the time his mother was alive
were already gone when she died,
either dead or married or left
town for good or ill, and his wife
turned out to be Lady Macbeth:
"Unsex me here!" she prayed and God
did what she asked, and that was it,
she went to church and he opened
The Saloon seven days a week,
she must be in a nunnery now . . .

Juan wondered when he woke Tuesday
when Lisa would get his postcard.
Maybe by Thursday. Be patient,
he said to himself. At the desk
there was no one to say, Hello
and good morning, and he walked up
one street then another, then off
to see the ruins. Lower Ninth
and plenty all around to share
the hushed grief broken now and then
meeting outside their broken homes
a man, a woman who thanked God
they were here and they would live here
again, as soon as they could build

what Katrina filled with water
from off the lake through the levees
that collapsed, too weak to begin
with, the beautiful city gone
under and only the high ground
stayed dry and even there the rain
drove the habitues on inside
or in Ray’s place under the roof,
but down here people declared God
was good, they could at least breathe in
and out, it had not been their time,
and a lot of folks would have stayed
if they could have kept their head up
above the attic, on the roof . . .

And Juan didn’t find a coffin
down here, it cost money to float
off far enough to lose the dead,
money only a madam had
whose house was the only one here
anymore making its own way,
nor was he going to find her
in Audubon, among the birds,
or anywhere he went looking
today. The cab let him off at
Hotel HOTEL. He placed a call
and Lisa answered. Her voice leapt
like fawns chasing their mother deer
deeper into the wood’s bright sun.

(11 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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