The Big Easy

New Orleans River Front

The Mississippi speaks of myriad spirits
aside a place where the twain marks its time:

Faulkner tossed spitballs
to guileless passersby here,
in atypically laconic style his entertaining way
of greeting Tennessee Williams’ cat on a hot tin roof
procreating in the moon glow;
enraptured by Louis Armstrong’s rampart jazz;
by sweet Emma’s celebration of  a Creole heritage—
rich and enduring, the chicory spice of diversity.

The river runs its course as laidback as ever,
while marching saints let the good times roll,
oblivious of things to come,
because it has always been that way in the Big Easy,
just as work-at-home mothers have always hung their clothes
on an existential line, their red beans cooking
in the simmering heat, Katrina protests notwithstanding:
protests that we were ravaging the jambalaya bounty;
raping our only home.

When the hard rains came,
indiscriminately, they tore asunder
plantation homes and humble abode alike,
dwelling hewn with  the guts
of native sons and daughters—
but it was not the wind or rain
that leveled the city,
rather the tragedy of  misadministration.

At last people took notice
of nature’s distemper with the current fancy,
and vowed to change,
with the resolution of a widower’s grimace:
comme ci, comme ça, they rebuilt this Mardi Gras land;
the krewes of Bacchus and Zulu float onward,
their carnival beads radiant in the steamy sun;
the boiling pot teems with rice and brew—
crawfish étouffée and hurricane magic.

The Big Easy basks now in its own resilience,
jesters ply their craft on the river steamboats,
while gamblers horde the water lanes of their malcontent,
and Rue Royal leads the transient spectator,
as straight as an arrow plucked from the monk’s quiver,
to the streetcar named Desire.
If you ask the cajun guides to take you there,
they’ll  say “mon bonhomme, move with the
the river flow, and you’ll do just fine.”

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier
June 3, 2011

©2011 Warren J. Devalier