Poet Julie Kane—the great-grandchild of eight Irish immigrants—was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Massachusetts, upstate New York, and New Jersey, and graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in English. She lived in Baton Rouge for two years, working in the federal “War on Poverty”; then in New Orleans for seventeen years, working as a technical writer and editor; then in St. Gabriel for four years, completing a doctorate in English with a dissertation on the villanelle at Louisiana State University. Since 1999 she has lived in Natchitoches, where she is a Professor of English at Northwestern State University. She was the 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate. Her poetry books include Rhythm & Booze (2003), winner of the National Poetry Series; Jazz Funeral (2009), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize; and Paper Bullets (2014), a collection of light verse. Julie is a Contributing Editor of Light Magazine.
In Memoriam, Leo Luke Marcello (1945-2005)
Sweet olive, blooming when the weather shifts
from shorts to winter coats, or coats to shorts;
for centuries before conditioned air,
planted just outside the kitchen door
to swish that otherworldly odor through
the screen-holes, maddening the young and old
with something hard to put a finger on,
as dangerous as powder up the nose . . .
Small tree of knowledge, pulling victims off
the sidewalk tracking your elusive smell,
past sun-struck lizards or the birdbath’s ice,
to linger here for decades in its spell:
Why can’t we leave your native South behind?
What grows here grows from the unconscious mind.
Like someone kicked you in the stomach, when
you saw a heap of them for sale beside
a bin of flip-flops at Rehobeth Beach,
wheeling your Dad around before he died.
Painted in psychedelic colors, doves
& flags & peace signs—why the sixties theme?
The way some lunatics will paint their homes
in gold & purple for a football team.
Creatures are made to suffer every day,
baby seals clubbed and kittens drowned in sacks—
so what was it about those hermit crabs
that made you fantasize you’d buy them back
and free them under moonlight, at low tide,
to choose a prison cell to crawl inside?