HOMAGE TO NEW ORLEANS
By Philip Cairns
Copyright 2012 by Philip Cairns
Got the blues real bad.
Missing New Orleans so damned much.
The sunshine and liveliness.
Walking along Prytania Street looking at the big old mansions.
Missing the bubble of pure white light that surrounded me.
The crowds on Bourbon Street,
Parading down the avenue with booze in their hands,
Grinning and laughing.
Live jazz music pouring out of every club.
Wailing saxophone and thumping upright bass.
The hucksters calling us into the bars as we pass.
No cover charge anywhere.
I swear that I’ve lived there, before,
Sometime in another life.
Things in Toronto seem so mundane and trite in comparison.
No colourful Mardi Gras beads hanging from wrought iron fences and balconies.
The French Quarter sucking me into scenes from “Streetcar Named Desire”.
I felt as if Brando would start yelling, “Stella,” any second.
The exciting kinetic days shopping for art and bejewelled trinkets.
The energy in New Orleans is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
Feeling safe and somehow loved and respected.
A town full of well-fed art and thriving artists.
The proprietor of a funky store told me she came to visit and never left.
“I always felt weird and out of place, everywhere else I lived,” she said,
Matter of factly,
Her fingers covered with huge silver rings full of semi-precious stones.
“Here, I fit right in.”
On Bourbon Street, a crowd of drunken straight guys poured into a shop catering to gay people.
The owner, a blond Adonis who looked like he stepped out of a porno wet dream,
Calmly said, “I hate straight guys,” when they finally left.
Wish I could have been his filthy rich sugar daddy.
I miss walking by the muddy Mississippi, late at night,
The lights of the mini-Golden Gate Bridge twinkling happily in the distance.
The fabulous sculptress Ersy Schwartz lives in a 5 bedroom house in the French Quarter
Bought by her grandmother in 1922.
Ersy teaches at the local University and makes exquisite bronze sculptures, like something from another world.
Wish I had that green envy kind of life.
Please, Goddess, send me a ticket to go back there, sometime soon.
I wanna ride the streetcar home on St. Charles Avenue,
After a night on the town.
I wanna talk for hours with all the warm-hearted people,
Chatting about art and Katrina and Mardi Gras.
Children sit on specially built wooden step ladder contraptions,
Anchored by their parents,
And watch the Mardi Gras parades.
People party for weeks on end until they drop.
I miss the Sculpture Garden filled with enormous treasures by Rodin and local sculptors.
Wandering amongst all that beauty,
For acres and acres,
Is silvery, sublimely divine.
I want to caress the streets of New Orleans,
Soaking in the electric atmosphere.
Someone said to me, “This is New Orleans. You have to be careful,”
But I never felt unsafe.
I bought a black onyx and marcasite brooch at an antique store, late at night.
The tall, overweight owner gave me a really good deal,
Because it was the end of the day.
He apologized for reeking of tobacco
Then drawled, “Come back, ya hear. You’re my friend. You spent money in my store.”
I kept saying to my short, swarthy Trans male companion,
“Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Kansas, anymore,”
Because I’d never met such lovely, friendly people.
Getting my tarot cards read by a sidewalk psychic, down by the river, after dark.
“Did you ever date women, at one time?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “When I was 11.”
Everyone seemed to have a smile on their face.
No one looked stressed out or angry.
You spend money in a store in Toronto and you’re often treated like shit.
They always thank you for shopping there.
I would miss my friends and family
If I lived in New Orleans.
And I would definitely miss my Health Card.
But I want to, once again, eat outside at a sidewalk café
On a hot day in February.
Buy an emerald bracelet in the French Quarter at 11:30 pm.
Browse in an art gallery at 10 o’clock at night.
Soak in the gorgeous “oomph” of the big parks.
Try not to trip over the cracks in the sidewalks
On the city streets.
Ride on the streetcar for $1.30.
Get hugged by the artist after I bought a piece of his art
Made from old photos and pieces of broken jewellery.
I want to suck the perfection of New Orleans into my pores
Right down to the marrow.
Let the vibrations wash over me.
Swim in the swamp with the gators
With the horse-hair branches tickling my back.
Life is an unfair labyrinth.
We’re thrown into the deep end,
Unsure if we can even swim.
New Orleans, I miss you more and more each day.
Compared to you,
Everything else seems faded, sad and forlorn.