In The Heart Of The Night

In the city of my birth,
On the third floor of Beckham’s Book Shop,
Surrounded by stacks of books I can only dream of reading every title,
Falling asleep on this worn out couch,
The musty smell making me dizzy.

They call it ‘the city that time forgot’ and continues to forget as we saw with Katrina,
Or the ‘crescent city’ for the bend in the river which Bienville saw as strategic,
Many nights I walked that same bend along the railroad tracks by the river’s edge,
Drinking hot beer procured from the abandoned Jax Brewery,
Oblivious to the rich history I was born into.

Wandering these streets of the French Quarters,
Past the painters, fortune tellers and street musicians trying to make a dollar,
I find myself in St. Louis Cathedral staring at the stained glass,
The pipe organ playing Bach while someone is blowing a horn in Pirates Alley,
Both melding into a complexed whole, as candles from the altar, burn our sins away.

So many nights strolling down Bourbon Street in a haze,
How many ghosts have crossed my path this night,
Dripping in the humid air of summer is like breathing thru syrup,
Or the damp cold of winter cutting you to the bone.

Growing up we’d take the Algiers Ferry across the river to the West Bank,
When night falls on a full moon you can see the city’s horizon shimmering on the water,                                                                                                                          

I think we only leave home so we can love it all the more.
It is then I understand this longing I feel for my city by the river,
You never really get over it, just strike an uneven peace between the heart
and head.

©jc2017-9

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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December in New Orleans

stocksnap_x7mzjn39sm_optOne of my fondest memories of Christmas as a child was riding in the backseat of a Ford station wagon along Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. The radio playing holiday classics in the background while watching the display of Christmas bells outside the front of D.H. Holmes Department Store. I’m not sure, but I seem to remember the bells moving back Continue reading December in New Orleans

Fire of Joy, ‘feu de joie’

Whenever I find myself in the environs of Baton Rouge on Christmas bonfiresStoryEve, I head south on a little excursion on River Road following the levee on the east bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. My destination is St.James Parish, some 20 to 30 miles upriver from New Orleans. St.James Parish is home to the communities of Lutcher, Gramercy, and Paulina. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area during my college years, so this is a special place for me.

Even before I get to my final stop I look up toward the top of the levee and see wooden structures shaped like a pyramid, some 20 to 30 feet in height. The cross beams in the structure giving it the appearance of a ladder. Other neighboring parishes, Ascension and St.John the Baptist also have these wooden edifices, but none hold to this tradition as passionate as St.James Parish, counting at least 100 such structures built and all will soon be set ablaze to guide Papa Noel, on his annual Christmas Eve run to deliver presents to all who are children at heart. Continue reading Fire of Joy, ‘feu de joie’

Quote8

JohnHeld_Tales_of_the_Jazz_Age_1922publicdomainSome people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people, dance.                                                   -Benjamin Button

“For w479px-Leather_shank_button_up_close-creative-commonshat it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”                                                                                                                   -Benjamin Button
Continue reading Quote8