Po by Donna Dallas

that’s the name yo
ain’t none of yo business
what went down
or under
in that river
dark navy
slick sucked you in
got stuck there
day after day
joint after joint

We had nowhere else to go
but Po
River–been a meeting place for a hundred years
they said it’s named after Edgar Allen Poe
’cause some boy was serenading a girl right
at this very spot
at the river’s edge where the wackaweeds tangle and knot
don’t know what the scientific name is
we say wackaweeds ’cause you never knew what would get washed up and tangled in them
like that girl who was serenaded with “To Helen”
looking out at Po
all starry-eyed
a hand drifted in
just a hand
slowly moving
heard that story for fifty years
girl thought it a hoax but
later there floated the foot
a cow’s head
a yellowed pearl choker
caught themselves in the tangled vine
that bloomed purple velvet flowers
for most of the summer
flowers kept coming
ospreys soar overhead
people continued to
sit in the thick bed hoping
would choke up something important
A one-legged man will take you swamp fishing
through Po
into the reeds
fan boat on the oily
lukewarm with a brackish tint
he will light your cigarettes
tell you all this
tell you lovers come back every V-Day
say, with a hoarse cracked laugh
ain’t venereal day
although that’s a disease as thick as wackaweeds ova here
every Valentine’s Day
some young lovers sit on the purple velvet flowers
believing they
gonna be different
from the lovers that came before them
while the ospreys feed their young
and we smoke
jay after jay
watch the water for stuff
floating in
that’s gonna
get us money

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