Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Leaving Houston

in Hurricanes/U.S. by

our evacuation order came late
at night, the wind
chime pealing only
lightly over the doorbell

we spent the night packing
what we thought was irreplaceable
but left so much to make
room for gas cans, cases of water, diapers

left before dawn, east
on 10 then north on the beltway
it’s silly: what scared me the most
was the missing traffic

there were no cars
tucked in the sheets of rain
and I knew what the ending world would look like
as the water reached the hubcaps

suddenly, the first cars began racing at me
speeding the wrong way down
the highway, piercing
the monochrome shadows at full speed

the exits ahead must be closed
they were looking for a way out
not remembering openings are
problems too:

wrists, bottles, levees
we all had
problems before
all this

I prayed a driver would not kill us: the baby,
and you, my Catherine Barley,
terrified to see me dead in the rain
as the water reached the fenders

everything peeled
in the gray
lifting in lithe curls
from what tried to hold it

everything left
running backwards
except the clocks, whose heavy hands
mashed hours down through muddy skin

everything ran
the opposite of nature
except the rain, which still fell down
and the water, which rose up to meet it


A long and fraught recovery [Washington Post]

Resilience, suffering and silver linings after a disaster [CNN]

Professional editor J. Todd Hawkins writes and lives in Texas. He is the author the chapbook Ten Counties Away (Finishing Line Press). His poetry has recently appeared in AGNI, The Bitter Oleander, The Louisville Review, Bayou Magazine, Sakura Review, and American Literary Review.

Photo by Jenu Prasad.

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