The fallen leaves scattered across the tracks,
Southbound 53 would push these farther on.
A love that was empty as Ashland’s winter trees—
A hard weight was lifted now that she’d gone.
No tears, but also no joy, would be found here.
Yes, may the very best find its way over to her;
And should any good be left over hanging out
Perhaps might could entertain here along with Jack’s purr.
Santy Claus is due to arrive in a few days
And we’ve all tried to be and to do our best;
But sometimes it’s never close to good enough
And you cancel flights along with all the rest.
Maybe in the new year happiness real will come
And everyone can breathe and let it all just be;
Festivals and dances return for our lives renewed
And I can get back to that crescent bend in the Mississippi.
The southbound blew its horn passing thru Ashland town
And the online chatroom railfans counted up all the cars.
The empty trees shimmied in the rolling winter wind;
The resettled leaves looked up and counted up all the stars.
Didn’t die for my country:
Would it help if I were more Hispanic?
Seems we’re all supposed to hate trumps;
Should I need to be more trytophannic?
Mad at me, mad at you—
Not the least bit “Chosen”.
Forget you, it’s not about me:
How long has your heart been frozen?
Find a way inside.
Do you still sleep alone?
Is there room by your side?
So many “fat-is-cool” shows,
And the stars’ car’s windows are all blacked out.
Define for me small-n Normal.
All cogent sides seem to have little doubt.
And a lady goes to Mexico;
Fishheads mingle in the sweet surreal.
Wanna live next to some boiled crawfish:
Why sucha big freaking’ deal?
You can have me with a dance at the Columns
Or a double oyster dressed from Domilise’s.
Let’s zydeco across lawn at Cyprimont Point.
You’re so pretty, so say all your nieces!
Looking at Sixty-two
Right in the face
Reminds me that soon
I gotta get out of this place
Back to the Crescent City
To ride a streetcar or two
Hang with my brother apes
Pay full cover at Audubon Zoo
Looking at Sixty-two
Who’s that old man?
Gotta dance some Cajun
Just as soon as I can
Meet John at Da Leaf
Then relax with David at the Columns
Then real beau coups soon
I can let go all these little problems
Looking at Sixty-two
Born in the magic year 1955
Wanna prove them all wrong
And gonna get out of here alive
Just one more beignet
And/or a Merlot-filled glass or two
Then it won’t be all that special
That tomorrow I turn sixty-two
Dark chocolate covered cashews,
But that memory of how you smiled—
Cajun two-stepping waiting for the drawbridge to repair
As our young moment passed as away the nighttime wiled
And then how we drove slow on back to NOLA
After a gig lovely in bonny old Lafayette
As a southern full Moon stole peeks out of the clouds,
But that was the best that things would ever get
Even dark chocolate covered cashews
Cannot pause the runontape in my mind
Of the passion, the loss, and the lingering rancor—
Leftovers of a certain thin, hard, sad kind
Love arrives hot quick and ends up a wreck on the coast—
The pounding memories: a waif on a beach missing her shoes;
And the only thing one could right now want the most
Is drown out the empty with dark chocolate covered cashews
The candle sputtered
Then guttered out
The wick a speck in the wax
The old poet looked
And suffered to stand up
The last present wrapped was Jack’s
A fresh Christmas candle
Striped Santa red and holly green
With its new flame warmed the room
Placing presents about
A tree to shame Charlie Brown
The shards of wrapping left with the broom
The cat’s tail flicked serene
The poet reached for his quill
As words soft filled a new page
A chance Winter memory
Spurred the poet on
Thoughts neither steep nor very sage
She bought him skis for a gift
Though “cross” country would mean something else
Tears of laughter with every tumble and spill
He wondered where she was now
A score of years have long passed
When meeting on Concourse B was such the piquant thrill
Chinese Five Spices
Floated upon the solemn merlot
The poet paused to let the tightness pass
Tomorrow the two-state drive
Back to his beloved Crescent City
Though this year without his own wee lass
Daughter would be skiing
Off out with her Mother and half family
Cross country over in the mountain West
He’d be with swiftly aging brother
And a Christmas with the family Creole
But things always work out for the best
A meow and a sigh
The poet let Jack out the door
A cat in search of secret nocturnal meetings
The candle blew out neat
The cold front had as promised arrived
As the rain pelted out its Season’s Greetings
Waxing and waning here came Christmas Number Sixty-two
But he yet looked ahead brightly through this Yuletide in Blue
The Ice Queen turned from the window
The curtain folds draped back into proper place
She was again content in her Keep
Having begun to forget his absent face
While the snow salted the pines
Squirrels burrowed deep in their nests
The Ice Queen folded into her chair
Dinner as ignored as her discontents
She recalled his rude voice:
“Please give me back my delta—
Any seat on any levee on the Mississippi,
I gotta get back to Nawlins,
Sure as Felicity St. follows Terpsichore.
So take that cork out of vin St Francis
To go where we’ve been before,
Sonoma will have to do
Waiting for my Crescent City encore.”
But the Ice Queen felt a shiver versal of her own—
The ghost of a loss lingered lumpen there
Left hard upon her heart of gold
A tale one could tell of mind, body, and soul
If ever one was to be so bold
She’d been that comely lass with golden locks long,
Lovely as the dawn in the Spring;
Now she kept to her Keep,
Love a scoffed-at trifle, a mere unknotted string
But a heart-twist pulled her up short—
Where am I going?
Who will lead me there?
The fog isn’t lifting
And I fear the very air!
Are you really in love?
I know I would like to be;
Could we soon catch up somewhere?
Could you tarry with someone odd like me?
A dread expanded where certainty fled—
One day without you
Is a rainy day at the zoo;
Another night without you:
A starless, moonless night too blue;
She allowed: Come on over….
My Lady combed her silken, yet gold locks
And made her ministrations for bed.
She remembered her lists for the morrow
And made her solo cooling path to bed.
His eyes and tossed locks followed her to her dreams—
He to his beloved Delta, She to her duty and schemes.
The curtain folds draped back with proper straight lace,
She again content in her Keep and all in its correct place.
The piano danced
The keys crashed and rang
Allen was singing
Fingers flashin all over dat thang
He oughta be on a pillar
High above a carnival crowd
He’s bettern Marsh Lee
For crying out loud
Tis another 14th Jan
Southern Nights run free
All the children singin
In the city of fleur de lis
He plays so gumbo
I wanna gonna faint
Ladies and gentlemen—
The light is failing
As are my eyes;
Put away all those becauses
That came with you lies.
We’d wet the drain;
I’m not all that sure
I ever want to see you again.
The year is ending,
As is my sentence down here.
How far to the river’s bend
And all that southern good cheer?
Stay in Kalamazoo:
A reunion in Cyprimont
Is all I will need of you.
My glass is empty
Just like my heart;
Were we really all over
Right from the start?
I want to go back to the streetcars,
the beads in the trees,
the shady uncle cousin someone
round the corner who has JUST what I need,
just a little after midnight; then
I need that walk the length of Esplanade Blvd
during Jazz Fest to approach that steamy Southern Mecca of Sound
where a southern soul can find release and respite and relish the latest fishy dish;
the only crawfish here is the department of no transportation
as I sit and sit and sit and inch by millimeter creep on home,
at TWO in the afternoon…[the schools aren’t out yet!]!
and all the girls are sworn sisters from the order of pure remorse,
Texas friendly…you got the dough, they’ll be your friend,
but all my grapes are sour and its Friday, the stereo is on twelve—
the cd is on capricorn records and a lil band from Georgia…Ah-MAN!
so let’s raise that glass of merlot from St Francis, sonoma valley—
brother gots a pig valve, and aunty is winning at bourre, de cours.
Go to the gospel tent! Where’s that streetcar…