What I Meant to Say

Wendy Babiak's Visions and Revisions


Bitter in New Orleans

It’s happy hour down at St. Joe’s Bar.
He’s there with his boys drinking pitchers
of watered-down wine. Mary’s at home

playing mah-jongg with the women
whining about housework and weeds
dollars and dime-store clerks

the jerks in line at the Canal Villere.
Ever since Jesus took off nothing’s been right.
The mosquitoes here bite harder than back home.

The antique shops offered a pittance
for His sandals, His old carpenter’s tools.
What fools they were to leave, to heave

history in that sack and take off for some dream
of freedom and art. Joseph isn’t even working
with wood anymore, and the cops here

are just as mean. But at sunset
church spires rise above the shops
on Magazine Street like hollyhocks

growing among herbs. Then nothing disturbs
the peace she feels walking at Audubon Park
watching the full moon flirt in the patches of sky

between the live oak’s branches. But tonight
it dangles a mere crescent, spare blue light dusting
borders of solid shadows. She hurried home in fright.

from Tampa Review, 37