On the Mississippi for some Tourists

Her seams, you think you see them,
by the Industrial Canal
and as the rainwater falls heavy and black
from the downspout of the municipal
overflow emergency system.

But it is just another fool tributary,
the prattle of empty bottles
against wood bobbing
and petticoat grime.

Sky father in the rust red eye
of the tide buoy calling mind
from the cracked concrete dock
where we had thought
to shelter from our sires,

yet the sounds of traffic
and her flat silence before us
forbid it
and you disappear by the tin scent
of the evening

2-1-14, Frenchmen St


On Sherrif Gusman, for a Criminal Defense Lawyer

I saw Justice out walking
on Bourbon Street,
a little after 3,
when the whole scene seems
to take one shuddering breath;
cascade; Toulouse to Dumaine
heaves and a strange tranquility
leaves the menagerie laid plain

so it was fate then
that he gave out just then

before me, face up and white flecked lips,
barbed wire muzzle beard

and jaws clenched,
even in death;

not for the judge to sentence
but by life lived at its own behest

given and taken wretchedly

long before the gavel’s crack.

Frenchmen St

On America, for two young Aussies on a road trip

We seldom see, do we,
once the great veil of radio love songs
and movie cliches has fallen behind
the last hulking mesa,
the last cloud inked in impossible magenta

and the road

illuminated code of Morse wanderers;
white line on fog lights off
and the red-blue red-blue
of sleeping sharks.

Once, dawn red and bloodshot in Texas,
coffee stain lips and no sleep,

in the bakery parking lot,
and the smell of grease

I saw her teetering beneath the weight,
mythic vagrant,

America collecting cans
on a spur of the I-10

On The Mississippi, for a couple

Mother music in the water
where she laps playful,
seductive, Mississippi mud and laughter,
the deep brown of forgetting
and the eddies
worrying the wakes
of her passage.

We have come as pilgrims, as wanderers,
the great movement around us
like hidden star surge,

the condensed cosmos cool now
and furtive;
symphonies of cicadas
in the amphitheater of air
where our hands mirror the tree roots
and water; reflection; the moment of tension
before the dam bursts and the sea flirts with us,

somewhere beyond the horizons.

Royal Street
New Orleans
January 12, 2014

On Grief

The garbage burglars are outside on the curb,
rifling through recycling and making enterprise of the corner.
Good for them: their Ford pick up is overburdened with cans
and the general meltable refuse of the wealth of the hollowed outs.

How does the face in the window pane know me?
I don’t, and in the grief and uncoming of dark,
imagine he gives the murk to the light
like soft death to life.

My gods are of chance; savage and romantic towering
manifestations of equally brow-knotting impossible equations–

hump backed specters of patented invention whose lanterns illuminate prophesy:
shake my eyes in rooms where my father is dying,
where I am,
and the nausea of the living fills me
to the point of intolerable uncoming
when all unseals all breathe softly,
lightly, wretched anatomy, lightly.

and this in the shadows:
catheter piss coming from blankets encrusted in nameless desperation–

while suddenly found on the roof
the inexplicable truth of the summer night time.

On a Bird’s Skeleton

The herd mentality of capillaries,
the quiet plumbing clusters
puckered flowers of blood in
each small hollow nook
without the least rattle

later is music, when rhythm, deferred
by the death of the drummer is back
wrist twine
to twinkle resonance of emptied bones
eyes closed while the cackle shakes up
the arm to pinch skin into feather

the last smell,
as faint smoke
hangs there.

On Midnight Walks and Sunglasses

Midnight walks in Paris,
and sunglasses,
when the garbage trucks hold court and city sidewalks
seem to chuckle beneath the rubber report of our soles.

So sue me: Achilles, even, had his heel
in the easy spires; the medieval brutality
made to reflect our greatest humanity!

O how faithfully we string him up,
dead and blood across Ecclesiastiland.

But back in Paris;
when the clock struck eleven
we were still in bed as the sooty brass
complained the hour.

You said, “j’├ęcoutais Veruca Salt et Frank Black,

and I said, please spit out your french for I haven’t the knack.”

Just then a passing bum turned his dead suns to us,
so we giggled over another glass of the good stuff
when from the street their echoed the phraz

“Sous les pavees la plage!” and “Vive le LSD!”

So we shrugged off our shoulders the coats we had always been borne
descending the crypts to save our skins from the warmth.