Two Poems by Martha Serpas

Martha Serpas


Rain on the river’s vinyl surface:

water that glitters,

water that hardly moves,

its branches witness to trees,

to fronds, leaves, crab floats,

pilings, shopping carts, appliances

the divine earth takes

everything in its wounded side

and gives back wholeness.

It bears the huddled profane

 and endures the soaking

venerated in its wild swirls

this river fixed with wooden

weirs, radiant in misshapen glory.


New Orleans, September 2005

…And God said, “Let there be a dome

in the midst of the waters” and into the dome God put

the poor, the addicts, the blind, and the

oppressed. God put the unsightly sick and the

crying young

into the dome and the dry land did not appear.

And God allowed those who favored


born in God’s image to take dominion over

the dome and everything that creeped within it

and made them to walk to and fro above it

in their jumbo planes and in their copy rooms

and in their conference halls. And then

God brooded over the dome and its multitudes

and God saw God’s own likeness in the shattered

tiles and the sweltering heat and the polluted


God saw everything and chose to make it very

good. God held the dome up to the light

like an open locket and in every manner

called the others to look inside and those who


rested on that day and those who didn’t

went to and fro and walked up and down

the marsh until the loosened silt gave way

to a void, and darkness covered the faces with deep sleep.