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A Mardi Gras Revelation – Poem

Here’s a poem I wrote a few weeks ago after Mardi Gras had passed and the beginning of Lent took our fancy here in New Orleans. I tried to convey something of the magic and mystery of what the Carnival season here means to the people of the Crescent City.

Mardi Gras revelry on Frenchmen Street, New Or...

Mardi Gras revelry on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Mardi Gras Revelation – Poem

The turning-turning of the windwhipped featherman
Dancing through the streets his hopes dreams
Carried on the wind through the old alleyways and porches
Up and down the bright houses and old oaks.
The mystery of a culture driven
to expose, explore, expand, explicate and dominate.
The wind over the river, the turning of the mighty wheels,
the floats carrying the memories
of lost souls, saints and sinners.

The revelry in the streets, the laughing and crying,
the passing and dying, the new births each day
into the spirit of the place,
the sounds of the place where horns
mix with drums and rhythms and rhymes.

The signs all point to the crowning glory.
The end of a season to begin a new one of repentance and redemption.
But before it all ends we pull out the last stops,
invite the world to see us crown our faux kings and queens,
and parade them through the street
and yes, treat them like royalty
if only for a day and a few nights.

The kings have cakes,
the cakes have babies
and the mighty circle goes round.
We toast the beginning of life
and dance at its inevitable end.
But does it really end, because the play goes on,
a new parade rolls
appearing like a ghost through the mists of the night,
lit by wild flambeau dancing, grabbing what it can,
spilling its liquid, illuminating the crazies, the wild ones.

The fans, the costumes, the debauchery and revelry,
kids grabbing for beads, the elders handing them off
to pretty ladies and little children.
And the kid in all of us holler out
“throw me something, anything and please and thank you.”

And one day we play a weird role
and flinging our fate to the winds,
and eat too much and drink too much
and party too much and celebrate the world too much
and maybe catch too many beads and doubloons and such
and shout to the world yes, here we are,
we made it and another year slips by,
as we fade into Lent, deprive ourselves
for the good of ourselves
and of the world and for our families.

We let it all hang out so we can pull it back in.
We don’t know what we miss till we do without it for a time.
And then, the floats and all the hoopla
go back into hiding, stripped bare
and made into a new canvas,
the rolling art works if only for a day
to be made anew for the new time
and new Carnival
and the Mardi Gras for next year
is just a dream in our heads.

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Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Poetry.

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