Poet of the Week: John Warner Smith

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Zydeco on Dog Hill

Before they put Cousin Gladys
inside the ground in a cornrow
of fair-skinned Creole men, I sat
in her funeral mass imagining
two shadows dancing in the swish
of a swift moving blade
that slit her dreams in half
and sent her father strolling
across the cane field
like a land-bending river, turning
a page she could never turnback:
news that a man had been killed,
her husband had been jailed.
I heard spoons scratching
a washboard, and a zydeco
accordion pump a groove
through a sweat-dripping rumble
of fast-shuffling feet. I felt
the wooden floor turn to water
and tasted the salty wave
as Jo Jo, her lover, swung out,
flaunting his gabardine
in two tones, his wide brim
fedora suddenly seen
whirling in a herd of flamingos
and a pool of whiskey-warm blood.

Originally appeared in Ploughshare

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