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Jack B. Bedell "Three Poems"

New Beach, Elmer’s Island


                    —Caminada Headlands, 2018



Before they brought this beach back

        with barge after barge of sand


scraped out of the Mississippi’s delta,

        the island had melted to a thin strip


of grass where waves broke hard

        on their way to chew mainland coast.


No headland buffer to slow down

        the Gulf’s salt water, no room to walk,


nowhere for cranes to nest—this place

        was a hyperlapse of loss, a door


not so much unlocked as off its hinges

        and left to rot away. Now, though,


acres of shore sprawl against the Gulf,

        full of shore birds. Tall dunes


ready the island for the water’s hot rise,

        storms sure to come. One island


cannot stop the sinking inland,

        or put back cemeteries and roadways


washed away by tide, but it can

        buy us time. And all time is hope.





Six More Weeks


                    —Bonnet Carré Spillway, May 2019



Six more weeks of the spillway

        dumping freshwater into Lake Catherine,

and the bodies of dolphin and sea turtles

        are washing up on shore. Crabs

burrow deep into the lake’s bottom.

        Oyster beds turn to dead shell.


With such a death grip

        on our land, guarding it against

the rising river, can we help

        but squeeze out ghosts?




The White Alligator


                    —for Emma



The white alligator at the zoo

rests his head on top the water

with only his blue eyes showing.


He hangs his body straight down

like any of us would, floating,


does not miss the sun

burning his pale skin, the pull

of mud in cold weather.


He does not fret for need.

I’m sure when his lids nictate shut,


he dreams of water-green hide

and a deer’s total suppliance

nosing water from the bank’s edge.


What more could his slow smile want?


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, saltfront, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

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