Cancer Alley

by Pablo Baeza

There is a long spiritual hangover
situated in the humility
of the humid WalMart parking lot
in LaPlace, Louisiana, where the soil
is so moist as to almost force pavement
into relinquishing its dominance o’er
the city’s silent corridors.

Back at the Lutheran church I am outside
staring at the blessed light of the full moon
and I am wondering where the sweetness is
in matters of loss, that halo of arm-cradling
morning coffee goodness one so often finds
in black-hearted grief, in powerlessness,
in the infinity of subjugation – rituals that persevere
in the deafening quilt of mundane silence –
here the sausages are made with love,
and everyone knows your first name.

Next thing you know your children are playing
in a playground someone built in China
to ship to Baton Rouge or maybe even Los Angeles
using the Saudi Arabian petroleum
that Houston’s master race
put on God’s given earth
to refine adjacent to your daughter’s school
to later sell to foreign markets,
and it’s not the plastics that kill you,
it’s the kindness of strangers
who strangle you with their vile intentions
and model behavior, who condescend
to kiss your churches and read your Bibles,
who fund the roads you can’t afford to drive on,
who threaten, like the clean-air schoolchildren
they, too, once were,
to take them away.


One thought on “Cancer Alley

  1. pablo this is really wonderfully put together, i am looking forward to reading all your writing this summer 🙂

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