by Clemonce Heard

Cheating Ma’s keys to slink back, back, forth & forth
to the Lower Ninth Ward, to a cooped backseat
of a coupe, to a deluge where I was canoe & canal,
to a heat that lingered like a sucking, several hours
after the sun sunk in the lento of an initial bead
of sweat is how I spent the first three months. Isn’t
never again will waters become a flood God’s word
abridged. A disciple forced to plunk in my own sin,
to wade within the car I swindled regularly. Year 87
regular surged. Spent the months of surplus riding
back, back, forth & forth from perish to parish, once
inundation departed. Apartment gust-ransacked
here, brick flat plundered by brackishness there.
Age of confluence where neither current prevailed.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, graduating from Natchitoches Central High School (May 2006).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem highlights how my life at 17 was divided by coming into adulthood and Hurricane Katrina. It is meant to illustrate transgressions brought on by curiosity, along with what can be stolen. This poem also uses the hook from Aaliyah’s song “Back & Forth.” My youth is comprised of my sister playing Aaliyah’s albums on repeat. My writing process usually includes coming up with a first line that has a tone I can carry throughout the poem and writing until I start slowing down. I then move to my desktop and begin typing what I have and filling in what’s missing. The poem usually fails if I’m too conscious of what’s coming next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clemonce Heard is a New Orleans native who now resides in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is currently enrolled in Oklahoma State University’s MFA program for Poetry. In addition to teaching, Clemonce tutors and edits for A Door is Ajar Magazine (ADIA). He spends the remainder of his time cooking and eating food that comforts his homesickness, dancing wherever there’s good music and learning how to fish fresh water.