New Orleans Summer Portrait

The heavy August air sits like an insolent child
sulking under the carport where the breeze
can’t get to it, if it even tried to do so
down the fractured street that no longer even pretends
to be the straight and narrow

it clings like a moldy, mildewed straitjacket
against the concrete and staggered magnolias
no one strides the sidewalks in this town
there’s a slow, undulating saunter
that even the uptight Metairie folk employ
to let it roll on the avenue

when the afternoon downpour doesn’t come
the next door neighbors crank up the stereo
and let the stale cool air from inside
seep into the afternoon swelter
while the young punks across the way
their cars parked across the desiccated lawn
rims shiny like a beacon that cries out
illegal income, get your groove on here
sit languid and lazy on the front porch
sipping cold drinks and waiting on their cell phones.

You can hear the locusts swarming on the levee
as the lubricated air relaxes its grip and settles down
for the night.

18 AUG 2003

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