_The following poetry was written by Lusher Charter School students of New Orleans. _
**His Only Begotten Rat**
_by Taylor Yarbrough_
In the busy city, spectators pass
and laugh lazily at three men
hanging from a light post: a clean sport
to see whose palms will burn first.
I stand in the middle under the man
with trembling feet: the others struggle
to keep the crowd entertained while
maggots feed on a brown rat nearby.
With his head hanging
and muscles pounding, he must win.
A song will make time move quicker:
_Eli Eli lema sabachthani? Eli Eli lema…_
His lungs are full like the dumpster trucks
that pass in front of the site, drowning
out the noisy crowd and leaving a thick haze:
I stand still, head cocked back, eyes on his.
An onlooker yanks a naked branch
from a sidewalk tree
and pokes the hangman in his ribs:
my mouth drops, his clear insides pour
into my wide open throat.
Maggots swarm around my feet.
A street sweeper kicks the rat to the side
and angrily whispers to me “Go home.”
_by Cora Parsons_
The car smells of dog breath and dry leather.
Heat pours in through the open windows
slipping between my parted lips
and crushing my lungs.
Houses on stilts look into the murky water
of the bayous that surround us.
F-150s speed past us,
rebel flags fluttering in the increasing wind.
The mutt sticks her head through the car seats,
breathing hot air on his freckled arm.
My father grips the steering wheel
as if it caused all his problems.
I look at his reflection in the window,
his teeth clenched, protruding his jaw
like he only does when he is upset.
His eyes overflow
like ponds after a long rain.
The tears startle me, and I lose focus
on the pine trees blurring by.
Farther and farther from home,
I know this is not the last time
I will see my father cry.
**Spirits of the Storm**
_by Jeanette deVeer_
They travel on the skeletal remains of the worn carpet
on which my brother, sisters, and I learned to walk.
They are reminded of the day when our door was knocked
down in search of rotting corpses or our treasures
and of how violated they felt.
They remember sewage water dripping down
the spiral of a rotary phone’s cord,
the pixels of my parent’s wedding album,
our dinner table’s solid wooden legs,
the rattling dishwasher’s drawers
as they glide elegantly along Livingston Avenue,
unlike the destructive waves of the hurricane.
They want to return to our family in our new life.
But as soon as we reach the second floor,
the curtain, secured onto the stair landing,
stops the spirits the way it stops the August air.
**Scenes from the Highway**
_by Elizabeth Lilly_
En route to our vacation,
we rubberneck past the carnage.
Lying crippled in a ditch, back
doors flung open, bloody
packages spilling out,
is a monstrous eighteen wheeler.
Before, I’ve only seen them
pushing eighty, five feet from our
van’s bumper, swerving loudly
around us. Now, humbled, it smokes
and steams, cargo baking in the
Insubstantial beside the fallen
meat-hauler, three pick-ups gather,
their drivers questioning
the distraught trucker
with overzealous gestures.
Like nurses in greasy overalls,
some toss white-wrapped slabs
of meat from one man to another,
in an attempt to clean up the site
We drive past, safe in our van,
to Florida, where overturned semis
don’t exist, only pretty people and beaches,
and the fleeting drama of jellyfish stings.