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Have You Ever Been to New Orleans? – Updated for 2014 – Poem

I got inspired by that poem I found written in the early 1800s and posted here a few days ago. I figured it needed an updated version. So as your humble humble correspondent I thought I would try my hand in doing that.

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in th...

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in the French Quarter, wearing elaborate flower costumes in the traditional local Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have You Ever Been to New Orleans? – Updated for 2014 – Poem

by Richard Bienvenu

Have You Ever been to New Orleans
the town like a planet
where the wild winds blow off the Mississippi
and the swamps have the air of the spirits that walk in the night.

The northern coast of the ancient Caribbean
with the mix of the wildness
of the French Spaniards Africans Italians
Mullatoes, Quadroons and Negroes the Germans and such.
The Irish thrown in for good measure
thousands of them died building canals,
mosquitoes so big that a mess of them can carry you away
and did in the early days of the yellow fever and malaria.

The water in the streets and the neo-classical style
of the ancient walls
a pared down vision of Paris
and the tall tall buildings that oil built
and the river carrying acres and acres of silt
out to the Gulf of Mexico and thrown offshore
while our marshes, swamps and bayous suffer
and disappear one football field at a time
lost forevermore.

Will the people have the way and the wherewithal
to stop the land from being torn asunder?
And there in the distance you can hear
the thunder and crash of the stalwart storms
that fly in from the mighty gulf
ravaging the coast, man and beast
ripping out by its roots the old oak tree.

And the sultry summer nights
filled with ghosts and dew
and the old Sazerac to pass the time
as the hours tick by, filled with guests and candles
flickering lights and angles in the old dark square.

The Quarter-Master runs his hands
through the long lacy moss and the beads
from here to there hither and thither
tossed to the longing hands of a child.

Here we are for a time, wrested civilization from the wild.
Wild in the streets locals and visitors
raising a glass to the dead as the bands wail on
with visions of Africa Europe and somewhere
a far flung universe dances in your head.
It seeps and oozes an invisible fog and syrup
like that of the sugar cane traps and enraptures all. All all.

It’s the feelings of the thing that is the wayward stream of light,
it takes flight it takes flight into the heart and soul
and grabs you like an overcooked onion
with gumbo and sausage and remoulade and stuff.

This is your plight to be lost and caught up on the feelings of this town.
No explanation for it, and when you try to explain it you’ll end up with naught
for by that time you’ll have been caught caught caught
by the swamps and the bayous and land of the strange
because that’s where we live and it never never
will change.

Posted in New Orleans Life.

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