Jack B. Bedell

No Stream, Just Leaves

The days do. They do. They move
along, come and go. Time is
no river, though. It branches

in every direction, at once.
I made a poor man’s crab boil
last night to bring over

to a friend’s house. Its smell
was so strong my daughter
ran in to ask if I remembered

the time PawPaw chased us all
out of the house with his boil.
He put so much pepper

in the pot, we had to crawl
out of the house coughing
like we’d been tear gassed.

He just stood there in the driveway
smiling loud as could be, 
watching us roll around

on the concrete, moaning
and fussing, begging to catch
our breath enough to move on.

But that day’s not upstream.
I have not passed it by.
I just need to squeeze

a couple of lemon halves
into my pot, give it a stir,
and stare off at the horizon line

to be right back in it. Or any
day, even the ones that 
brought phone calls so bad

there wasn’t nothing to do
but drop the receiver on the floor
and put hands on knees.

They all jump back on you
so fast, given half a chance,
it’s really no wonder

Lazarus spent most of his time
staring off into nothing
after he’d gotten his breath back.

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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