New Orleans Poems, 2019

I. Cemetery Number One

Cold water, one dollar
Crows calling in the 
Book about    water
      Mud underfoot   Ferns
growing out of the walls
     Cackles, protestations
            Free tours

Vaults, sarcophagi 
      biers      Hide and seek
among gravestones
      Marble, cement
          etched names
   A spigot, dry for years
This land, this district...
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NOLA, February 2017

I.  Strep To.

Who wants to riverboat gamble?  Bramblewine, Charley Pride, kiss an angel good morning.  At 4:35 a car on St. Ann honked, a woman whooped and I coughed this cough I've got, craning for health, for a clear cranium, for enriched uranium, for heavy water—Enough.  It's not a cough I've got but a sore throat and a wicked one.  All my life I'd hear about other people getting strep throat and I can't recall ever having it myself...until now?  Dunh, dunh, dunhhhh!  I have been under the weather for weeks and now I'm in New Orleans, Louisiana—what am I doing here?  Sipping room coffee at five a.m. because I can't sleep and my throat hurts and I don't have my trusty foam contour pillow, upon which I have grown heavily reliant.  The day will unfold, though, and it might just get better.  The only tool of destruction I have here is the liquid—no grass and no pills.  I have a legitimate chance of remembering the good time I'm going to have out there on those patchworked cobblestone streets in this old amorous city on the river...

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New Orleans 2016

Wooden doors.  French doors.  Lockbar, cord sheath.  Dormers, slate roofs—lots of slate roofs.  Slate mulch for trees on Esplanade.  Fluorescent plastic straws, a few pennies.  Failed mortar.  Church bell. If I had started counting from the top I would know what time it was.  Gum wrappers, gum.  Cracks.  A red substance—wax?  Wrought iron.  Gas lamps, flickering flames.  Cool breeze.  The neck of a glass bottle.  Spigots lacking handles.  Woebegone cigars.  Sheathes now for the downspouts.  Tender aluminum?  Spit, phlegm, leaves.  Trumpet playing on Jackson Square.  Heels on these pavers, dog snuff, bags being rolled along their luggage wheels burning and turning.  Feathers, sparkles, glints, sequins.  Buttons.  Shadows.  This building I'm leaning on improved by the Works Progress Administration, 1935-1936.  Trumpeter playing and singing that Hank Williams song, "...down the bayou...," his singing not as good as his trumpet playing and I'm a little hung over, a little emotional, having a moment here, a future memory I think, tears caught on the inner face of my sunglasses.

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New Orleans

(for J. Smith)

I.  Prologue.

These thoughts I have.  I'm just gonna write them down.  Why is she...?

"What are you doing?"

She moves away, sighs.  I'm scrawling.

"Are you... What are your code names for J[] and T[]?"

"Pretty sure J is Brett."

"T is...Fairchild?"

"I think I referred to both in Jamaica '09, so they would be whatever they were in there."

The humidifier gargles.  This is the most I've written in this putative dream journal since I don't know when.  I'm up there.  B asks me if I'm writing in the dark.

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