Postcards From Malthusia DAY EIGHTY-FOUR: Charles Lauder Jr.

Galveston, Texas, September 1900

 

no radar   no text alert   no shouting down the mouthpiece

the leaden gray clouds foaming on the horizon   grown fat and delirious

on Cuba    are about to swallow us

no CNN camera on the corner of Broadway records the parade 

of six-foot waves   mules and cart swimming past the Grande Hotel

the freight train overhead tearing up roofs beneath its heels

no Android to video Father and his Negro handyman throw a mattress

against the door   put their weight behind it   muffle the bangs

           of a horde of bill collectors

thousands of little devils whistle past carrying Miss Wilson’s piano

Mother hatchets holes in the floor to stop the waters

           lifting away the house

if we could we’d message our cousins   facetime the nuns in the orphanage

in another round of ‘Queen of the Waves’   the children tied to them

           with clothesline singing till the dorms collapse

 

* * *

 

no selfie of Uncle Jerry outside our house wrapped in curtains

asking for clothes   no GPS to tell us in this town of splinters

which damn street we’re on

no sonar to reveal who lies beneath the rubble   neighbors dangling

from branches like mistletoe   like shredded ribbon

           are easier to spy

Father is fed on goblets of whisky to sift the wreckage

his handyman to load the bodies onto barges

           for burial at sea

the tide washes them back on shore   no pics posted

of the giant bonfire built on the beach   no emojis

for the smell

 

 

Charles G Lauder, Jr, was born and raised in Texas and has lived in the UK since 2000. His poems have appeared internationally and his debut collection, The Aesthetics of Breath, was published in 2019 by V.Press.

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