Margaret Koger
Money Comes to Apalachicola Bay


Apalachicola rests beneath misty river-mouth salt air
Here where wharf boards rot and shrimp trawlers rust.

Where ages ago stacks of 500-pound cotton bales waited
To be loaded on sailing ships bound for distant mills.

Where boats filled with mountains of living sponge unloaded
A golden harvest brought up by immigrant divers.

And workers lined up barrels of turpentine pine rosin
Refined in Cracker stills and sold for ship’s caulking and soap.

Where crosscut thousand-year-old cypress logs floated
Downstream to sawmills till there were no old cypress left.

Where roofless buildings now house riots of green upstarts
And leaning walls support wild trumpet vines.

Where oyster-gatherers and shrimpers maybe pull in
Enough to feed a family—weather providing.

Where everybody who lives here knows it won’t last
Property prices skyrocketed so high nobody can . . .

Homes sheltered by Historic District regulations
Victorian mansions, cottages, and brick one-levels

Cost so much these days a person would hardly believe
Two blocks down there’s not even a sidewalk to walk on.

Sweeping Magnolias shade verandas and screen porches.
Empty rockers witness how folks once sat out evenings.

Refined old Gibson Inn still shelters travelers and lazy cats,
Green anole lizards in cycads flash their pink throat fans.

Church bells ring at eight, noon, and pews fill up on Sundays
Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic congregations meeting since 1830 or so.

Apalachicola Library’s got free email for anyone who drops in
Thanks to Bill Gates. Open 10-12 and 2-5 most weekdays.

Here in Apalachicola, fixed-up Cracker-box houses
May sell for a cool half-mil …

At Lafayette Park landing marsh rabbits roam
And young yellow-crowned heron fledge.

Along salt marsh stalks of knotgrass and sugar cane
Yellow-striped lubber grasshoppers cling undisturbed.

Tiny black crabs on the wooden landing skitter and pick
At discarded bait shrimp left by fishermen.

Black skimmer gulls drag wide-open beaks over shallows
Common terns plunge deep as surface water explodes.

Under the Lafayette Park gazebo (honouring our dead)
Guests witness as a bride and groom promise to uphold.

Cicadas ratchet from live oaks as mockingbirds call
And red cardinals flit anxiously from bush to tree.

Collared-doves ca-COO-Kuk in symmetrical tone
Their flush notes steadfastly resonate in the steamy air.

Common cooter turtles a foot long scoot over grass
As a northern flicker feeds its baby in the bird-box.


Stock market climbing, taxes for rich folk falling
Getting ready for a new day on the Forgotten Coast.

Developers eager to buy up the whole Florida Panhandle.
New investors needed for the survival of the one percent.

There’ll be rich newcomers clogging up the Piggly Wiggly
Dribbling bits of money to the minimum-wagers.

Buying up history and habitat so no matter
They drive away exactly what they came for.