Daily Archives: August 18, 2003

New Orleans Summer Portrait

The heavy August air sits like an insolent child
sulking under the carport where the breeze
can’t get to it, if it even tried to do so
down the fractured street that no longer even pretends
to be the straight and narrow

it clings like a moldy, mildewed straitjacket
against the concrete and staggered magnolias
no one strides the sidewalks in this town
there’s a slow, undulating saunter
that even the uptight Metairie folk employ
to let it roll on the avenue

when the afternoon downpour doesn’t come
the next door neighbors crank up the stereo
and let the stale cool air from inside
seep into the afternoon swelter
while the young punks across the way
their cars parked across the desiccated lawn
rims shiny like a beacon that cries out
illegal income, get your groove on here
sit languid and lazy on the front porch
sipping cold drinks and waiting on their cell phones.

You can hear the locusts swarming on the levee
as the lubricated air relaxes its grip and settles down
for the night.

18 AUG 2003

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Somewhere Along the County Line

Let’s take a detour off the interstate —
The roads are straight and intersect endless rows
of soybeans, seed corn and winter wheat.

Besides, if we get lost,
and spend our evening the only lights on this road
perhaps we’ll learn something important
(or at least we’ll think so in the morning)
about our selves, about our past
about a night sky we never get to see
from an apartment in the city.

Let’s take a slight pause,
which we have been taught to call a caesure

What we have translated from Latin
to describe the natural order of things
could fill more volumes, more rows of books
that would reach from here to the moon.

Besides, if we take the time,
someone else may mind these crops:
the shopping malls, the parking lots,
the cement and steel that surround us,
unfeeling and ever-present
stealing from us our pioneer spirit
by concealing the night sky
from our apartment window in the city.

Let’s take a detour from our books and things,
and venture out into a world we don’t experience —
unless reading bucolic poetry
from limited editions that cost more
than you’d like to recall.

Besides, the roses are not the only things
we have forgotten, their scent lost
in a carbon-monoxide haze that fills our lungs.
There is new-mown hay, clover and straw,
and there are flowers and wild plants
that we have only seen described
in pristine, crisply covered field guides.

Let’s take a slight detour off the interstate —
the roads are straight and intersect endless rows
of clover, soybeans, seed corn and winter wheat.

Besides, if we get lost,
we might learn something.

10 AUG 1991

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In Memphis

In Memphis, where the gypsies come to hide their dead in earth
and I too seeking burial for past mistakes learned the blues
hoping to hide my sense of misdirection like Elvis
there along Madison Avenue two blocks from the Western Steakhouse

and fell in love only to marry for another reason
learning to obfuscate and blur the truth with cold beer
shooting the shit with Wonderful Wanda
and a myriad of characters that also knew the darkness

there at Green’s Lounge sitting in with aging bluesmen
also worried about the metal detector at the door
who knew the next generation wasn’t going to help them die
where I learned to like the sound of my own voice

regardless of the words it spoke
and all the endless hours of mindless drudge
that some smart words about politics or drug culture
could erase in the echo of a microphone

where I stopped doing Elvis impersonations
because they got to be too real.

18 AUG 2003

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