Allegro Poetry is a publication based in the United Kingdom and archived by the British Museum. They published my poem, Houston’s Ark, in their December 2017 issue.
I wrote this poem after reading about a Houston man living in a flooded public housing project who was able to save his family piano.
When the river rose, and water came knocking like a stranger,
the family got out, somehow, to higher ground, leaving behind
the second-hand furniture, the neatly-folded clothes, the new
toy elephant, and hardest of all, the old piano. Well-loved, but missing its pedals,
obtained for a song, a while back, from the local church, where the pastor
wanted to see it find a good home. Now, the spinet would be orphaned once again,
abandoned to the flood.
As they were leaving, the man raised a wet fist to the storm, and
cursed the housing project built too close. And he counted his children,
by head and number. Four, four. Thank God, there were still four.
And then the rains stopped.
And the man and his brood returned home, to the place where the windows were now
shattered from the wind, and the bedding and walls were plastered with frog-green scum.
But the old piano had stood its ground, up to its knees in brown liquid, its guts still dry.
And the man, shaken, but safe, sat down to play,
his feet keeping time on the soggy floor, the linoleum squishing.
And all around him the air was damp, stenched, sweaty as an armpit.
And the man released music, like a dove, into the sky,
and it flew out the broken window and circled above the swallowed city,
and the bayous, and it cleansed the muddy places of his heart. And two children
clapped and two children cried, and the man kept playing because he could.