Once There Was by Marie Chambers

Once There Was (for my father on his 90th birthday)
by Marie Chambers

Delchamps is no more
vacuumed off the city map
by the mile-wide aisles
of Merchant’s Bank
the one that ate
Regent’s Bank 
after Katrina swept down 
Government Boulevard
tore the arms off the big oaks
twisted the Spanish moss
into knotty pigtails
ragamuffin gutters now
no more the tree-lined boulevard
no more azaleas
nor short sleeves and sweet pies
over to the Malbis bakery
with marble countertops 
sticky as wet tar

there were ship shapers and airfields
boilermakers and barracks
the Mardi Gras 
named itself here
moon pies flew from off the front porch
grey and gold cadets stepped stylish
danced cattywompus and backwards
before prancing straight ahead
passing side yards 
pocked with baby blanket blue
plump with sun

no accidental gardens here
work skirts belled then belted 
oysters arrived by the barrel
you could listen to the songs 
sung at a Sunday dinner
across the causeway


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Marie Chambers is a Los Angeles-based writer, art advisor and business consultant. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College and most recently was a finalist for the Lascaux Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in The LA Review of Books. The Atlanta Review, Talking Writing, The Quotable, Ilanot Review, Printer’s Devil Review, Ironhorse Literary Review, the Lascaux Review and The Writer. She was a winner of ARTlines2 Ekphrasic Poetry Contest judged by Robert Pinsky. Her writing has also been published in numerous art catalogues and her collaboration with Paris-based visual artist Daniela Bershon was featured in the online magazine “7 x 7.”

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