only love can bring back courage or else despair

Poet Ed Sanders (“a bard, a poet who takes public stances,”)

once wrote, on a torn leaf of toilet paper later smuggled out of jail

“To live as ‘beatific

                Spirits welded

                                together” to which I add:

“Only love can bring back courage or else despair”


and create something mystical out of this mud

Dude says, “somebody just shot me in the head!

I can’t pay attention to that! YOU pay attention to that!”

So I crawl 150 feet to the next gas station

the air is thick with smoke

acrid with bad science

but what took us this far must walk us back out again

because there is no receding into tomorrow. Brother says

“Cop just shot me in the back of the head!

Won’t somebody PLEASE help me get onto my feet

and into the emergency room?

… into the charity ward… that ain’t there no more?”

If we had no future tense, would we

have come this far in science, or would we

live longer without it?

Planning and patience, if you can

see beyond the next few seasons

consider doing new things in a different way

Would you be more likely to observe

all of the colors of the seasons of the year

and disobligate yourself to them, and

look for a way to overpower that nature

that otherwise is in your bones?  Brother says,

“You all got us into this mess, now you got

to get us all out of it. Do I look like I invented the automobile?”

I am shifting weight from foot to foot, like

I got to find a place to pee

Brother’s got a point there, but 

how many people in my immediate vicinity

are actually profiting from all of this cancer?

How much more waterfront property can we sell around here?

Short term rentals are much more

popular these days.  All along the coastline

forests are losing their footing; rising water crowds

the feet of plants and they drown, roots

salty with intruding Gulf water.


Summer’s coming & the whole damn mess is crawling over Elevator Hill.


And it’s taking with it

All of the people who can afford not to think about it

I’m going upstairs among the clouds

to bed


Oh, but summer’s just dawning

and its teeth are grinding, glaring

down upon the fleet

of taxicabs stuck in traffic

on top of the bridge.



Dennis Formento

Dennis Formento lives in Slidell, LA, USA, near his native New Orleans. His books of poetry include Spirit Vessels (FootHills Publishing, 2018), Cineplex (Paper Press, 2014,) Looking for An Out Place (FootHills Publishing, 2010.) Dennis edited Mesechabe: The Journal of Surregionalism 1990-2001. He is the St. Tammany Parish organizer of poetry events for 100,000 Poets for Change, a network of poets for peace, sustainability and justice world-wide. His recent publications include translations out of Italian of poems by Florentine poet Cristina Campo (1923-1977), soon out from BlazeVOX, and a few of his own poems translated into Italian in the bioregional publication, Lato Selvatico.  


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Friday, November 9, 2018 - 08:53