Once, boats on the river were floating prey for fast schooner Turks who stole whiskey, playing cards, even slaves. Now the barges are driven by one man, a skeleton crew, a computer that sounds depths, knows the tides better than any old salt. But we adjust to time. In the Crescent City, greed never takes a holiday. Today, every porch is a cargo deck and all packages are contraband anyone on foot, bicycle or stolen car can claim for free. Up and down Poydras or further north on Louisa, no home is safe in spite of video doorbells, crime cameras on telephone poles that scan with one black eye the landscape of theft. The booty is whatever can be pawned, resold or simply tossed in the grass if it has no resale value. Watches, perfume, I-Phones go quickly, even cancer drugs if the pharmacy is open to a backdoor bargain, the expiration date checks out. Nothing changes here; slow-burning summer is the one season we all suffer, the same sun that shone on black men in iron collars, the pirates who pinched a dozen then sold them back for a quick profit. In the city that forgot to care, ghosts breed ghosts-- every hand is a grappling hook.
William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, Lee Circle, was published by Shanti Arts Press in 2019. His poems have appeared in many journals, including, The Penn Review, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner and West Branch. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
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