Ah, New Orleans: a villanelle

The air is thick with history, with years of sweat and toil.
Old ghosts play hide and seek in sheets that show more recent use;
the wiser tourists avoid alleys and shun Bourbon’s roil.

Old men of different colors sit on their front steps and broil,
and stare across at one another, hearts filled with abuse;
the air is thick with history, with years of sweat and toil.

Some drunken fools careen along the street, in beads and foil
and pay five dollars to discover “where they got their shoes”.
The wiser tourists avoid alleys and shun Bourbon’s roil.

For two weeks in the spring, pre-Lent, the tense peace turns turmoil,
and you don’t want to see OPP for the weekend, that’s old news;
the air is thick with history, with years of sweat and toil.

If you look closely, underneath the surface, a slow boil
festers even in the minds of drunken revelers at Krewes.
The wiser tourists avoid alleys and shun Bourbon’s roil.

So come to spend your money here; we’ll throw our beads at you
and like as not you’ll end up poorer but show no scar or bruise.
The air is thick with history, with years of sweat and toil;
the wiser tourists avoid alleys and shun Bourbon’s roil.

29 JUN 2004

By request, here is a villanelle that theoretically also provides some impressions of New Orleans. Although I have to admit, feeling rather Tom Waitsy at the moment, the picture I’ve chosen to put in the Viewmaster for this one is a bit on the sadistic side. But then again, Nawlins does have that contingent. Ya know, vampires and all. With bondo fangs and everything. Giving tours. Pointing out witches … and strippers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*