from stillcoast

Stillcoast. There is still coast. Still the still coast.

We deltawater weep with our upturned offering. Our palm offering. Plea and flee—deliver us from epicalyxes of salt.

She is telling him Cocodrie means crocodile. A big ‘ole pile of them slogging through shores of dredged up spines, of cypress knees. She tells him Cocodrie is crocodile misspelled.

No matter how soft you step, you shake the mosquito world, and fiddler crabs run long-ways to their holes, peeking every-so-often for serenity.

A fist thundered down somewhere. Thusly, tides; the fist came down. The contrast blue-black on yellow, and this is ground for peeling and peeling and it is now the red that trickles to drain the want to not be gotten enough of: carve chip incise.

Someone said the closer to mirror the blurrier. Scoured belief pressed so close.

The isle split.

Little rivulets cut capillaries through the soft mud and loosened the bind. The years of experience of shipped-in scientists and engineers outweigh the experience of forced-out Louisianians.

I’ll sit right here. I will with toes pointed Gulfwards. The land would sink under me before my body told me to drink or die.

Of course, I vanish.

I emerge treading in the million acres taken from the coast since 1930. Count me among the sixteen species residing in the figurative island mass floating, buttressed by salt.

Officials recommend we imagine twenty-five Washington DCs. Only if they are drifting, spray-painted hazard orange, and bobbing like crab traps.

Something dragged onshore by gloved men. Grizzly and pried open, preyed on, emptied. Contents scattered and sorted according to utility; to need; to want.

There is a learned vocabulary of morningtide. Words thrown and rescinded. Over and over and over; gravelcrunch under stilettos.

Not that anyone around here walks across Redfish Lane in anything other than rubber boots. Their chest-high waders bloody with hacked speckled trout across oyster shell in the leathered bottomskin of their calloused feet.

Morning formed itself. Something moved over wiregrass (a nonfog) and made the moonmad dogs bark through screen doors.

Weather tends toward illogical expression. Tending or tends, the tense of weather is imminent. Our inventing new mitigations to prevent more migrations imminent.

The meager barrier islands carry barrier. What life you might propagate. What you might berate: the rate of loss which tends toward illogical geologic expression. We are in imminent progression which needs to be were.


An imminent lamentation production machine like the elliptical poetics weather inspires. The elliptical egrets float inspiring circle of their air over the island sliver. Their annual perch drowned now. Drowned.

Cocktail of fresh and salt strips the roots. A line of perceivable blue and blue, breaking. Or subsidence or the nonperceivable sinking.

Days, their hovering days waterbracketed thrushbracketed. Might their mind apprehend the apprehension? Might they circuitously apprehend the cumulative?

The climate accumulating as the egret flies (as the crow flies). Humans apprehend an accumulation so much, so an apprehension is berthed. With it, a dearth traced as the egret flies (as no crow flies). The dearth the little earth. The hovering earth death we little call climate.

The following proposed at the township meeting regarding the loupgarou.

How stupid of us to line those kidney beans on the threshold. As if that’s going to do anything. Besides if it were to come wouldn’t it come for the one with turkey necks on their floorboards. It’s because the moon looks like a fried egg in cast iron before the white turns white. Not us who got fear stuck at our tongue-stumps like correct communion hosts. Okay aight nix the beans just in case and stuff dish rags under the porch door. Spray Elmer’s or shotcrete on the screens ‘case he comes as a scattershot of gnats. Fetch the five-gallon bucket and get some de-headed, de-veined shrimp from Lapeyrouse’s. If you can’t stand the stench there’s clothespins in the junk drawer. Dump the potted meat in a Ziploc then throw it out. Run fishing line through the bottom of the can. Slide the other end of the line through the slats of the window unit. For what who the hell knows? For hearing? The someone stirring ashes with a bouquet of loblolly needles? We have no bay leaves for steeping, no cayenne to beg it vamoose. What’d they say—not everything is cast by going do-do or saying it ain’t so?

You can shout as long as you want due south but it will be swallowed by the blanket water makes.

Later an argument spat out washes up onshore carrying globs of seaweed beside us splayed on the algaeslick rocks.

(That was nice.)

Our feet pointed due-Gulf let the long arm of tide (hold your breath) wash over us when they ask (joking), say we pretended to be dead. During a strong ‘tow pull, we dug our fingers. We held on tight to whatever earth we could. We held on tight. (How much?) Whatever would fit into our palms. Our fingers deep in dirt. (Little as we were) We would be bodies, those red buoys marking crabtraps. (Imagine that.)

The world we made wobbly. The water in our ears.

Maybe that which was before the disaster was not music but silence; cradled between sea and shore; rickety gulf between body and soul. Emergent predicament.

There is a two-fold silence—sea and shore—body and soul.

One dwells in lonely places.

There was a time, I am told, when mostly marsh didn’t butt up to Highway 1. You could tend a guava tree, a grapefruit if lucky. You could baby an orange sapling to fruit. You could be struck with the scent of a scratched rind before diesel. That citrus cutting through fog.

The shrimp boat’s outriggers weren’t tainted by rust. Now the weight of this economy strains under the oxidation. The hungry mouths and wallets of half of the U.S. bet on dry rotted nylon nets. The rank hands of locals and immigrants blamed for just not moving under the threat of more and more encroaching water.

Days before the spill. Mister Twister filet knife electric rolling across the freezing backs of reds and specks. One could say this was a virtuous catch and release.

The bronzed crucifix transforms the threshold into something other. The dumpster rental company from up the highway boasts a totem of recycled crosses replanted in their junkyard. Widower wishes for wife’s chill, the disobedient act.

Don’t carry away the traiteur with her remedies.

Passerby is told jumbo shrimp at $5.95/lb. But who knows where?

Countenance described as weather-beaten. The all of everyone slouching toward payday.

Another dog, this one doors down from the screen door wailer, joins the howl. Calm canal-cut topwater shivers under the dogs’ calling. All is directed toward becomings of three kinds.

I am every man in the family when doused in my grandfather’s smellgood. I am my sleeping grandfather when I clench my teeth until my eyes hurt, but when, for example, I crush the mouth of a pint glass, I am my grandfather kept from sleep by dull pain, slog-riddled veins, a fresh wreck of emotion. When I leftbrain my way through a day I am my working grandfather. When fed up with measure I am my grandfather paddling oil and flour in a two-burner pot. When I am given a piece of life’s fond, I have not worked enough to be deserving. When silent, I am my grandfather in one of many minds. When I wake with a thank-you thought, I am amid a frightening thing; from my grandfather keeping me to me keeping him.

How much science needed to image a future. How many minds. How many to imagine futurelessness.

A time, when you stand in a spot you remember three decades past, you must either tread water or sink or drown.

How many solutions might you fit on the buoy of science. How much story might bind back the barrier island. How many concurrent surging sciences. How many stories to beat back the surging science. How to untangle ourselves from our subsidence snafu our saltwater snafu our science snafu.

An answer, however reasonable, can be fabricated. And resilience and snafu rhyme and rhyme and nearly rhyme.

Originally from Louisiana's Gulf Coast, Nicholas Molbert now lives and writes in Cincinnati. He is the author of two chapbooks, Goodness Gracious (Foundlings Press, 2019) and Cocodrie Elegy (Foundlings Press, 2023). You can find his work in publications such as Birmingham Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, and Pleiades among others.