Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 8, 2017.
About this Poem 
“I’m originally from Texas, though from a landlocked portion in its heart, and my spouse is from the southeast region, near the Louisiana border. This landscape is uncannily beautiful—piney woods, carnivorous pitcher plants, wild boars seen from the car window, bayous full of jutting cypress knees, the longest overwater bridge I’ve ever seen—but the region is economically depressed, plagued with prejudice, palpably violent. The whole Gulf Coast region is repeatedly devastated by hurricane season, which exacerbates these conditions. These threads finally came together in a poem after I read an article explaining that the official map of Louisiana is a lie—because much of what is shown is actually underwater.”
—Shanna Compton

The Driest Place on Earth

I watched in horror as the man hung
half a pig by a hook in the window.

Nearby, the sea shone or something.
Nearby, the wingspan of a hawk cast an elongated shadow.

I listened with horror to the words I was missing.
A wrongness was growing in the living moon.

& nearby, the sea rolled endlessly.
Nearby, the saw grass peered through the grit & preened.

I've never been to Florida. Louisiana however
is second skin of mind, a habit-habitat.

& Texas on the way there, the red soil 
& black boars, the frankly haunted pines

lone men in pickups fishing
for nothing they intend to catch.

& nearby, the sea froths over the edge.
& nearby, the sea.

Nearer & nearer
the obliterating sea

Copyright © 2017 by Shanna Compton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Shanna Compton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Shanna Compton

Shanna Compton

Shanna Compton is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Brink (Bloof Books, 2012). Her book-length speculative poem,The Hazard Cycle, is forthcoming from Bloof Books in 2018. She works as a freelance book designer, writer, and editor in Lambertville, New Jersey.

by this poet

Rain interchangeable with
the walls it falls against
alphabetless like a neon
ring above an extincted
window showcasing something
formerly fabulous now
kinda poignantly disappeared.
I guess that means we're back
in Seaside (since we must
begin somewhere) and it's
probably summer but
can't be as long ago
as the

Last week Mars suddenly got a lot closer.
It used to be the place we'd throw out
as impossible, utterly unreachable, so red
and foreign and sere. Not anymore.
And I'm trying to figure out why watching
the panorama makes something in the hot core
of me crumple like a swig-emptied can,