Nola

Nola

 

I. Night

 

French Quarter split by stinking Bourbon Street,

wrought iron tongue of the old south, festooned spreading

sweet-spot on partied satin rimmed by puke-reeking gutters

floating handbills hawking Flynt’s girls – fresh-faced

little sisters barely eleven, twelve, the face of our

daughters sucking off the lens of a close up camera

for the hoards of randy frat rats cocking the belligerent walk.

 

Shrieking renaissance theater geeks dare to be daring,

popping buttons for beads, tart breasts overhanging

high railings, astonishing only themselves and the

gawking throngs of mild Midwestern looky-loos

pouring down the throat of that bluesy rotting street,

moon-faced cows mesmerized, mistaking PirateCon

for some authentic southern slice, altogether blind to

the crumbly-toothed paltering locals, Queen City hustlers

dragging bottom for nickels and dollars, sloshing tubs

of cheap beer, hurricane koolaid, bucket brigade strung

street-to-street to finger the tit-baring, cash-wielding stumblers.

 

Farther out, on the just parted lips of that old French whore,

a brass jazz collective, soft ebony and swinging braids,

spring back on their heels and blow their muscular guts out,

visceral tang luring middle aged white women from the

pampering hotels on Canal Street in plump clusters inching

forward to throw dollar bills at the collection box, self-consciously

fussing and cooing over the four-year-old darling black son-of-a-jazzman

perched on an adorable crate at the feet of the delicious trumpet section.

 

Exotic smoky players in crisp white cotton collars, thrusting

their sweet brass through warm folds of night, tease dormant loins, surpass

Saint City’s promise of creamy magnolias and curling Spanish moss.

 

 

 

 

II. Day

 

Sunday is beignets and fleur de lis,

absolution and saving face.

Long gray breath of gulf

pushing wide freight and gulls

along the drawl of river walk,

trussed up city of decay,

boiling mudbugs and steaming chicory,

 

salty dream overlaying the artificial

essence of orange barely masking last night’s

overspill. Just watered sunny balconies

drip ferns and spider plants shading

freshly scrubbed Sunday sidewalks.

Early morning conventioneers trickle,

scour cartooned maps of the Vieux Carré

for bloody marys and Latin mass,

Café Du Monde, graveyard voodoo,

garden district by St. Charles streetcar,

the House of Blues famous gospel brunch.

 

Mounds of merchandise sag the French Market,

Big Easy proof in countless incarnations:

t-shirts, mugs and carnival masks,

doubloons, voodoo dolls, spice of gumbo file,

Creole cookbooks and Tabasco pepper gift sets,

pralines, pecan logs, bourbon cakes,

Crescent City pins, posters, and baseball caps,

trinket boxes, easel art, absinthe drippers.

 

On Jackson Square, tincture of night music steeps the pining

silence of women gazing toward sunlit St. Louis Cathedral,

palming their rosaries, fondling their Mardi Gras beads.

 

 

 

 

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