Lucky Dogs on Bourbon Street
by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

“New Orleans was just a wreck: I was totally depressed, and there’s only two things to do in New Orleans — drink and die.”
— Ryan Adams (Q, Dec 2003)

New Orleans crawls along like Nuitra rats
near Lake Pontchartrain,
fishing with shrimp boats
along the mighty Mississippi,
and we can’t forget those street cars,
don’t you dare call ’em trolleys,
Ryan Adams, these slow moving machines keep us grounded
while sweating bricks, on Garden District’s islands
and counting the jingling change in the Quarters.
Although sometimes sad,
drenched with a smashed heart,
I was never depressed living in New Orleans—

but I found myself in my balcony apartment,
overlooking giant oak trees
branching with Mardi Gras beads hanging,
remembrance of carnival parades
floating past my second floor near St. Charles.
I loved porch sitting when it rained,
watching the streets flooding with my flowery neighbor
as we made up play-by-play commentary,
witnessing front doors, abandoned bottles without messages,
stop signs so essential
because in New Orleans no one ever hurries.
You have to use your feet, become one with your sweat,
take in each dirty exhausted breath,
exhale southern comfort burp clouds while stumbling home

under these glorious southern skies.
Ryan, there are only two things you can do in New Orleans,
think while you’re sipping hand grenades from plastic cups
and waiting for your insides to explode
while watching your insides fry.
All the foods you swallow are treasure troves of delicacies
for your aching stomach.
You probably stayed in your hotel passing out
before sunset like a tourist;
the last sound you hear before passing out
that’s the only last call in New Orleans.
But you survived, you didn’t drink and die,
you didn’t eat gumbo and Étouffée, honey—
why oh why, Ryan Adams?
While regurgitating Lucky Dogs on Bourbon Street,
you missed polishing off the best part of our greasiest city!
I can still taste caramel-glazed rice pudding,
there are no subs in New Orleans—

we eat never-ending All That Jazz,
Verti Mart, Po Boys
while diving our mouths inside
Juan’s Flying Burritos.
Forget the forks—Mr. Adams,
desserts are whip creamy smooth
like a Preservation Jazz Hall symphony;
all the frosted layers carnival cake
parading flavors inside my mouth,
salivating hunger all the sounds,
marching horns, tossing beads
and smiles from flashing strangers
while tasting naked midnight New Orleans
and each & every one of her spooning bites.
Ordering my burgers like I love my women—
undressed, savoring NOLA’s sweatiest curves
melting her sweetness like Southern Decadence
with those Abita lips; my favorite dish
loves keeping me up with her most carnal appetites.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Lucky Dogs on Bourbon Street” is my love letter to New Orleans. The first city I ever lived alone, and one of my favorite places in the world. It’s also a response poem to the Ryan Adams quote. I am the biggest Ryan Adams fan and know that when he recorded “Love Is Hell in New Orleans” he wasn’t in the best moods, but I saw his quote and this poem came out. This represents everything I love about the city I left behind. Until you’ve lived there, wandered the streets, inhaled the aura, you could never understand as Louis Armstrong said it best, what it means to miss New Orleans.

IMAGE: “Evening on Bourbon Street” (New Orleans, Louisiana) by Greg and Chrystal Mimbs. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is a Los Angeles poet whose work appears in the new True Romance Poems collection, 1000 Tankas for Michael Brown, The Lake Poetry, Edgar Allen Poet Journal # 2, Fukushima Poetry Anthology, The New Verse News, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Spilt Ink Poetry, Luna Luna Magazine’s Latino Poetry Project, Love Poetry Lovers, ZO Magazine, Oddball Magazine, The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, Men’s Heartbreak Anthology, Purrfect Poetry Anthology, and other publications. He is currently enrolled in the MFA Graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles.