The swamp smells heavy
like a soul tethered to the heat
dripping down every window.
It slaps the glass with hairy arms,
leaves big prints along the basin’s shore,
berry scat at the base of cypress trees.
Easy to hit that smell and know
it’s been left by something old
and large as the trees themselves,
something dark at its core,
from home to home, lonely
as the moon against black sky.
Can you breathe and not hear
its claws scraping down
Can you breathe and not
lock all doors?
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, fall 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.