This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Oil Dealers & Deepwater Part II – Étouffée" redux

Part II – Étouffée

the last thing he remembered
was her étouffée
the way shrimp and chicken
could fall apart in his mouth
the texture of onion,
the soft burn of the bell pepper,
the crunch of celery
the way a drop of saffron
could flavor a whole meal
for a moment
after the alarm sounded
after the shock of fear subsided in his spine
he was there again
in her Baton Rouge kitchen
surrounded by the smell of her labors

he had seen a blowout on another rig
before BP
before Deepwater Horizon
everyone jumped to their posts
did their jobs
and when all was said and done
insurance wrote off the damage
and they thanked heaven no one got hurt

for a moment
he flashed back to that rig
hoped it would repeat

and as the rumble rose
his eyes dimmed
the world fell away from focus
and he could taste  her étouffée in his throat

the moment was too quick to prepare
he saw the faces of the men around him
he had seen them all today on the rig
they were 11 roughnecks who would go home
when the job was over
they were strangers before the rig
and they would be afterward
they always wanted to be forgettable
for a roughneck,
to have one’s name known
means you’ve fucked up
you screwed the boss’s daughter
you carelessly killed a man
or you died on a rig

they were 11 men
whose names would be remembered:
Jason Anderson
Aaron Dale Burkeen
Donald Clark
Stephen Curtis
Gordon Jones
Roy Wyatt Kemp
Karl Kleppinger
Blair Manuel
Dewey Revette
Shane Roshto
Adam Weise
no longer forgettable

when it came
the rip roar of steel and crude
swallowed in a sun
the last thing he remembered
was her étouffée
the last thought
was the smell of Cajun cooking
the feel of her arms around him
as the bowels of the earth
those billions of animals
compressed into oil
buried for millions of years
saw the sky again
released the rage of imprisonment
ignited into fire
rose into the sky
carried his disintegrated memories
with them
rising like steam
from a cooking pan
of her étouffée

the earth hemorrhaged billions of gallons
like a head wound
across the Gulf
to her, it was bloodstain

denied his body,
she collapsed
the first time she touched the oily surf
prayed that somewhere in the black crude
there was some drop of him
some molecule of her husband
the size of a saffron seed

after she walked home
barefoot from beach across the bayou
she refused to wash
the oil would fall away
but he would hold her
sink into her skin
flavor her like saffron
she has no gravesite to visit
but she can smell him in the kitchen
any time she cooks étouffée

Deepwater Horizona victims

Jason C. Anderson, 35, Midfield, Texas, father of two.
Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, Philadelphia, Miss., married, father of two (14-year-old daughter Aryn and 6-year-old son Timothy), died four days before his 38th birthday.
Donald Clark, 49, Newellton, La., married to Sheila Clark.
Stephen Ray Curtis, 39, Georgetown, La., married and had two teenagers. Taught his son to hunt and play baseball and was active in his church.
Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Jonesville, La., married to Courtney Kemp.
Karl D. Kleppinger Jr., 38, Natchez, Miss., U.S. Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, enjoyed NASCAR and cooking barbecue. Married with one son, Aaron.
Gordon L. Jones, 28, Baton Rouge. Wife Michelle Jones was nine months pregnant with their second son when he died.
Keith Blair Manuel, 56, Gonzales, La., father of three (Kelli Taquino, Jessica Manchester and Ashley Jo Manuel). Engaged to Melinda Becnel. Had season tickets to Louisiana State University baseball and football games.
Dewey A. Revette, 48, State Line, Miss., married with two daughters. Had been with Transocean for 29 years.
Shane M. Roshto, 22, Liberty, Miss., married to Natalie Roshto, father of 3-year-old Blain Michael.
Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas. During time off, the former high school football star spent time with his girlfriend, hunted deer and fished from his boat.

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