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
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.