GUMBO by George Comeaux



Oil and Water have always mixed well here –
Priest and prostitute; Anglo; Creole;
Plantation owner; wet nurses; sharecropper –
Gumbo stirring in everyone’s soul.

Acadians trapped in the swamps no one wanted;
Africans danced to the auctioneer’s song;
Battered by strong winds, and social upheaval,
Twice reconstructed, more fertile and strong.


It’s not Oil and Water, it’s Black Gold and Brine!
Treasures embracing, to taunt destiny…
Mother Earth pierced, lubricants flowing
In post-partem sorrow to Grandmother Sea.

Life from the past, dueling life for tomorrow,
Clouding the bon temps that want to roulez;
Wings weighted, grounded; gills suffocating;
Shrimp boats aren’t a’sailin’ on Ponchartrain Bay.


Blame the pusher, the user, investor, producer;
Add up to total, send out the bill.
God said He’d forgive human transgression…
I don’t think Mother Nature will.



Oil and water have had significant impacts on my life. My parents grew up on Louisiana farms near the Mississippi River, My father worked as a teenager with his father clearing swamps for the levees near Baton Rouge. My spent his career at Humble Oil in Baytown, Texas, on the Houston Ship Channel. Humble income helped fund my college experience. My hope and prayer are that the perpetual inter-dependence and conflict between Nature and Industry will favor the health and well-being of the larger family.


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“‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said.”

How many inscrutable angels does it take to screw in
a lightbulb? None.

How many mice?
Two, but there’s not much room.

Two of Ma’s favorite expressions:
“It smelled like low tide at Coney Island.”
“She looked like the last whore at the clambake.”

One of Dad’s expressions:
“Your ass is grass.”
Jump the fence, Johnson grass can cut your feet.

Pisser clams seem nonplussed by my poems,
I’m volatile as a quahog in public.

I’m quiet at home too.
We eat, and are grateful.

Night, my head hits the pillow.
Night, I pray my gratitude
and a little fluid leaks out of my left ear,
relieving the pain. Lilac. Saguaro. Dandelion.


I have a couple books people might be able to find in used bookstores, THE ISLAND ITSELF and HOMESICK. I have a third book coming out in April of 2012, PLAGUE OF FROGS. God bless Russell Edson.

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