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Tony Gentry

Going Back to New Orleans

Updated: May 17

In April, will be returning to New Orleans after some years away, attending an occupational therapy conference downtown. And will land aswirl in memories from those sowing wild oats years immediately after college, when I rented a Magazine Street apartment without window screens or furniture, bought a used mattress, card table and lawn chair, and sat on a sagging back porch with my Smith-Corona, struggling mightily with this frivolous puzzle, how to write a poem. The previous summer, I’d spent at home in Fork Union, VA, working a failing farm with my father. That time, too, glows in memory. Here’s one of the first things I’d call a poem written on that Uptown porch:


I like a life that grasps life, one tipped a bit to the instinctive side, that will dare the touch of an other.

I like Daddy cornering a catfish pausing still as a stump

arm-diving scooping the yard of fish from the pool a raving urgent muscle and tossing again to cool freedom in the slipping water.

I like the background the one that threw him in four feet of water four feet long

heels up on a fish’s back and all the brothers laughing –

Like I say the balance slightly tipped.

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