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Louis E. Bourgeois: Three Poems

In Lacombe, Louisiana | Leaving | In the Dust of Fall

In Lacombe, Louisiana

Mother is at the window
calling me from a distance
of twenty years.
Her squirrel stew is still on the stove.
Carrots and purple onions drift
along the October wind.

My step-father burns
every stump in the yard
with every tire he can find.
His stomach still flat
his beard pure red.
He's waiting for the pipeline
to blow up the front yard.
One day it will.

My brother in the road —
he plays with a plastic toy —
a tow-headed boy with capped teeth.
He'll grow up vicious and fine;
many women will know him.
He'll die in some mine-shaft
leaving behind children
enough to carry his name.

I'm out there too, walking
a swamp-ridge and carrying
a single-shot twelve-gauge.
There's blood on my face: mosquitoes.
I'm out there shaking and sweating
with only half a father
and half a brother
and no mother to speak of.
I stop and listen to her voice
drifting from a long way off.


The house has never
been so dark.
I donít turn the lights on,
I canít take the light.

A pair of faded stilettos
in the closet,
a strand of brown
hair in the bathroom sink.
Your favorite white cup,
still on the counter.

The house has always
been this bright.
I canít stand the sun;
the windows are nailed up
with old wood.

I keep hearing whispers, Cora.
The back door wonít go silent,

and pigeons fly
in and out of the eaves
as if nothing has happened.

In the Dust of Fall

It is Fall in the pinewoods.
I come in search of you
after fifteen years.
There is the echo of chopping
wood through the forest.
Puffs of smoke above every house.
Crows and hawks still battle
for the highest sky.
The village has not changed much.
The same carp are still feeding
off the surface of the lake.
Boys are still throwing stones
at each other and passers-by.
Girls are still playing
hopscotch in the dust.
I search for you a long time,
old friend, at the bottom
of the valley where the river
is still flowing into Lake Ponchartrain.
I find you in your houseboat
stretched out and much older.
You do not recognize me,
dressed in black and my face as white
as suburbia.
When you finally remember, you weep
into your hands.
A long silence takes over us
and I consider that old friends
should not meet again.
Things and people
make us sad when so
much time has deformed us
and made us weak,
while the river continues
to flow
and the sky is blue
even though we are dying.

Poet's Biography:
  Louis E. Bourgeois was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 19, 1970, to a working class family and raised primarily in New Orleans East along the Bayou Sauvage. At the age of 18, he was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in the loss of his left arm, which led him to reading and writing poetry. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Mississippi. He is an instructor of English at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and the poetry editor of Yalobusha Review. He has published poems in such journals as Poetic Hours, Parnassus, The Oxford American, Poem, and Tundra. His chapbook Through the Cemetery Gates was published by Q.Q. Press of Scotland.

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