Lily: A Monthly Online Literary Review
Poetry by Barry Harris  •  Photography by Jill Burhans

Noah's Neighbors

A CNN journalist declares it
a story of biblical proportions
and there on the screen
are Noah's neighbors banging on the ark
but the ark has left New Orleans
in convoys of SUVs
up to Baton Rouge and points north.

Noah's neighbors wait on rooftops
on abandoned highways
in domes where they don't need a ticket anymore
to see saints.

Noah's neighbors die
in wheelchairs
in lawn chairs baking in the heat
in hospitals adrift in filth
and they watch the corpses
of friends and family drift by in the flotsam.

Noah's neighbors take what they need
from a sinking water world
first two by two
then by thousands
first bread and diapers
then DVDs and televisions
then shotguns and revolvers from Wal-mart.
The CNN journalist does not think it strange
that we stock shotguns and revolvers in Wal-mart
or does not say.

The waters around them grow
the world falls apart
collapses upon itself
and does not wait
for the good people to return
for their goods rotting in stores
for electronics to be plugged in
for guns to be paid for
and the world is laid bare, exposed.

Its skeleton clangs to life
bone to bone
and waits
two by two
good and evil together
for the ark to return to the bayou
and pick up its people.