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Okaloosa | Derrick Austin

Categories: Poetry

From NER Vol. 34 Nos. 3–4

heron-detail

I like the heron best
because it has no song,
flying over the water, its mating
cry mournful, aggressive, and internal.
Seaweed and creamy foam
float on the tide’s restless lapping,
licking my feet like a lost dog.
I am no master.
The Gulf collects its own scraps:
rows of hotels
hollowed out and plastered
ochre by sunsets, knocked down by Ivan
or Dennis—you lose track
after so many seasons.
Mist hangs over shoddy condos.
Beachcombers scan the quartz burrows
of ghost shrimp. A drunken couple
stumbles somewhere. Before they were expelled
Choctaw called this place Okalusa,
“dark water.” 

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