Archives for posts with tag: Louisiana

MetairieCauseway_08_31_2005
The Wake for an Emergency Manager in 2010
by Tricia Knoll

You in your coffin boat, so straight
in one of many starched white uniforms
with shiny buttons, braid, a black
and gold service patch.
Pews filled with co-workers.
I remembered the hard words I said
once and when you forgave me,
you were sweaty and your uniform
wrinkled in summer heat. You smiled
and we were friends again.

Those search and rescue dogs
you trained, tethers to show up
for impossible salvations.
Hugo. Andrew. Oklahoma City.
La Prieta. The floods of ’93.
Taking us to Katrina
to do what we could.

You said back then
fire was the next big threat
for emergency managers.
Wildland fire. Paradise.
You trained people
to work the lines.
You were right.

Your boat stirred ripples of care,
compassion. I think your chest
is breathing; your eyes twitching.
My dead friend. I never see
a corpse and fail to remember
how many lives you tried to save.

PHOTO: Metarie, Louisiana, 8/31/2005, I-10 at Causeway Boulevard. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 23-31, 2005), this was the last bit of unflooded passable highway out of town, and one of the main evacuation stations for Hurricane Katrina victims. Photo by soccerbum, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a tribute to Perry Hopkins, the emergency manager who led the response of Portland, Oregon, to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005). I was a responder working under his facilitation. Emergency Managers sometimes do not get the recognition they deserve for coordinating a response under FEMA’s emergency response system. He was my friend.

PHOTO: Perry W. Hopkins (1956-2010).

tricia-knoll

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet retired from work for the City of Portland, Oregon. The Portland locations in the current news are places she knows well. Her poetry collection include Urban Wild (human interactions with wildlife in urban habitat), Ocean’s Laughter (change over time in Manzanita, Oregon), Broadfork Farm (the people and creatures of a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington), and How I Learned To Be White which received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at triciaknoll.com. Find her on Amazon and Twitter.

mibbs_nola
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.

cepeda

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.

Image“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass-transit motor coach named Desire.”  

TOM ROBBINS, Jitterbug Perfume

Find Tom Robbins‘ 1990 novel Jitterbug Perfume at Amazon.com.

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“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass-transit motor coach named Desire.”

…from Jitterbug Perfume, a novel by TOM ROBBINS

Find Tom Robbins‘ 1990 novel Jitterbug Perfume at Amazon.com.

Jitterbug Perfume has a large and exotic cast of characters, all of whom are interested in immortality and/or perfume… Go see for yourself; you’ll have a good time.” The Washington Post

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Summer in NOLA

Story by Jason Kerzinski

“Hey Sweetie,” a girl in a red cruiser saunters by acknowledging the Mardi Gras Indian who stands with a Home Depot tip jar inches from his flowering Indian garb. His pink feathers illuminate the streets streaked with reminders of last night’s debauchery. His bloodshot eyes bulge.

The few tourists walking by glance with unsure looks at the man dressed in such odd attire. The yellow-and-blue beaded design on his breast reflects pink dusk brushstrokes that fill the sky. I never noticed the pink dusk until I moved to New Orleans. It took me until my thirty-third year to notice the dusk. The things we miss. How could I have missed the pink dusk all these years? The pink dusk is fast approaching. Does anyone else smell a bouquet of star glazers? Can you smell it? I can smell it.

The Mardi Gras Indian picks up his empty fluorescent orange tip jar and waddles farther down to Bourbon Street. The well has run dry. Summer in NOLA. The only way for performers to pick up some cash these days is to migrate to Bourbon. My poor, poor street performers. No one should be subjected to all the vile things that stare up from that street. Tough times in NOLA during the summertime. A gooeyness. A stillness. Days to reflect.  

Photo: Kim Welsh, Offbeat Magazine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“Painting depends on freedom. When you’re feeling completely free, you can create, and this power to create is, in turn, the greatest freedom of all.” GEORGE RODRIGUE

For over 20 years, Cajun artist George Rodrigue has honored his deceased dog Tiffany with hundreds of blue dog paintings. I never get tired of looking at these charming, engaging, thought-provoking works of art. RIP Tiffany! We love you!