Dennis Formento


          LE MESCHACÉBÉ (Palmer in the Pocket)

For Jo Beth Britton


The river pours out of the Peabody Hotel

through a lobby fountain full of ducks

cotton floats on barges through the air

sky sweeps down to the sea

cloud wind bellows across the oxbow lakes

abandoned by the river where it turned

away in its elegant course

le Meschacébé


& the Corps of Engineers can’t do nothin’ about it

when the river changes course again

when the flood waters rise whole villages move

when the flood waters rise above the natural levee

delta sea-foam spreads humus across the valley

rich oleaginous loam

fish swept between trees slipt through houses in outer

space and hid in the clouds of stars

rivertopped houses soaked in nutrients at roots

pike crushed to fish meal beneath their feet

pushed south from lakes up north

downriver by floodwaters cold

to a Delta visible from Mars

& when the waters receded

the first mounds appeared


Eros is possibility

& the most erotic unleashes the most possibility

Le Meschacébé flicks its tongue into the moon


mother out of which flows

tap water   ice   car washes

the senseless articulated by a migrant thrush

jays squawking in the fields below the crescent

gulls swirl across the grass, sweep and return

sweep and return

searching for seeds


& all the water in the world rushes down, the people

crushed atop their houses

one hundred miles above the river’s mouth

or 300, where Monroe now stands & Sonny Boy

broadcast blues

live over mythic radio

in the valley known as the Delta


Ouragan stroke

when the Corps blew the levee

the world disappeared

and Houston Stackhouse levied the blues


“The first time I heard Muddy’s “Flood,”

wrote Robert Palmer

“I remembered

an afternoon, years before, when I felt

an overcast sky

dropping lower and lower, increasing

a peculiarly disturbing

pressure I could feel


in my blood.  I was sure

the heavens were going to pour down

rain and lightning bolts at any moment. 

But the storm never came—

it was inside me, a perception of a gathering

emotional storm

that I’d unconsciously projected

into the cloudy skies.”


I didn’t know it was history

I just thought it was great music

poetry pushed through a guitar’s neck

blasted out of a sound hole

a taste of the best basting

a drum ever took

roasted  pearls of twilight

scratched into the sky


Copyright © 2003 Dennis Formento.  All Rights Reserved.

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