– F. Douglas Brown –

“Earth, water, the tremendous/ Surface, the heart thundering/ Absolute desire.”
-Georg Oppen

1. Post Dead Daddy Blues
Bury me feet first so I can check on you
Let me stand so I can smoke a “J” or sip some beer or just say, “hey baby”
I wanna sing blues or R&B, sass, curse and laugh

Cock my head up to the sky
Let me look through worm-dirt & grass-soil
Let every football game flicker across my forehead—TV light, high noon bright

I said, bury me vertical—feet first and head up
Let me hold you— let me push you to your feet
When levees fail, life quakes, when oil swamp sinks and brown water bubbles

When your old girl walks out, and your new girl walks in
Let me caress your swoon, keep you the way a pillar keeps a ceiling from collapse
My grand Mississippi grip, my southern comfort, poised and ready

2. Post Katrina Blues
Used to be a three-story nightmare to clean but it was home.
Used to belong to Mama Corrine & Daddy Ceairee, and now it belong to me.
Used to have wooden floors cut from the oak that once stood in the front yard.
Used to be built to last—Daddy Ceairee and his buckled back, knot for knot strong.
Used to have three levels because sugar, we tryin’ to be closer to heaven.
Used to have plenty to atone for.
Used to love the sound rain made on the roof; I said, I used to love the sound—rain—roof.
Used to be safe—Mama and Daddy safe.
Used to be more than this here stoop left.
Used to have to piss in a pot—Good Lord child, what we gon’ do with you?
Used to be for after meals, cooling off, quiet prayer.
Used to be no children in sight, just the two of them sitting on a stone, stair stoop.
Used to be just Corrine and just Ceairee.
Used to be plucking a guitar and humming a tune ‘til the dusk light stretched its orange
wings and flew across the gulf sky.

3. Post Haiti Blues
Blame wind and waves
Blame sister city jealousy

Blame work or the lack of
Blame the many mouths to feed, the many hands; good God, the hands

Blame the shapeless sand
Blame land-fill island full of juju and haints

Blame rooster’s caw and cluck
Blame aboiements des chiens, barking dogs whose keen ears know rolling earth

Blame lover’s sin, a consumption of sorghum red, the rouge of our flag
underneath a body of blue
Blame the way a rumble shifts and shimmies, tosses bodies dead, toward stiff ground

4. Post BP Blues
Here’s the answer to your brown water
Here’s the vacation and sleep you’ve been needing
Here’s the oiled down stork, the brown water gulls, Crisco species
Here’s the cement, and here’s the plug
Here’s the dark skinned pier
Here’s the slick and the sorrow
Here’s the crude—corruption is a starburst outlined in green
Here’s the President kneeling, clinching black sand
Here’s the fisherman’s last line, greasy nets resting on a bed of greasy grains
Here’s the child who colors her ducks in dark ink not to make a point,
but it does make a point
Here’s the child whose beach has holes in it
Here’s the child whose nick name is Tar Baby, and she ain’t even black

5. Post Brown Water Blues
Brown water of levee, sand, island
We drink away the miracle
Of you turning into wine

We wash off any faith of walking on
The glide of your brown shimmer
Our strut sunk deep in the muck of poor decisions

Brown water or brown milk of mourning
Our pedal point hum won’t rinse out
Won’t stop underwater oil and mildew

Men are gunning other men down
On bridge from “nowhere” to “even further”
Even the police are leaden, true aim bullets at brown water skin

But our homegrown blues is a cleansing agent
A prayer or a plug that will withstand
Floods of political nosebleeds

Our daddy’s double ditty—our mama’s wrench
Wrought wails—our first full gasp
Out of the womb or rough weather is always the blues

Brown water of levee, sand, island
We drink you away in a fugue,
Toast your flight, your diaspora

We swig it all down, strumming tunes that’ll take the heart home
Your music combing through dark ashen silt
Through every strain of your golden gulf, your long-haired horizon