By Shayla Lawson
From Fall 2017
Just like the hurricane, Lonny understands destruction. The force a body swallows to remember itself mortal (remember, you too are smoke). A woman loots across the Louisiana heat & unbuttons right in front of him—from lawn sprinkler to downpour. She takes her index finger along her navel, slides her hands, still soaking, across your lips. “Katrina” he utters as her wreckage bows the floorboards of his college years, drenches his sneakers in silt. Perhaps this is the first way Frank knew a woman. She teaches him ruin is a thing men work for & her fervor only proves her penitent. But he know better, you can’t be tryin’ to keep a grown woman sober. Her dirt-drunk, percussive howls as she stumbles to undress him. “You ain’t been touched in a while,” she claims. And when a woman blows down your front door you can’t do nothing but acquiesce to her. She’s the dealer & the stoner of her own anatomical bonds. The rage of her waters this song in falsetto. It’s Louisiana & the ocean is still / a babe, who has not taken on the tidal—a litany of deluge, four hundred thousand heartbreaks. One Frank. All carried / away like the deluge he will become. But Katrina: what she don’t drain, she baptizes in the stench of burnt grass that follows all young men in one way or the other. The best of Frank—not-spared—blares into the Mississippi, blue ink to paper pulp. She took me high (& dry), he sings, Then she took me home—& by that perhaps he means Los Angeles—how Lonny gets on in the levee’s descent. Katrina rescinds & he becomes The Ocean. Perhaps why he channels orange—the absence of being Blue. The sky above a coda; high as the gulf.