Thursday, November 22, 2012

Poetry Is a Freight Train

Poetry is 
     a freight train
that I am forever
     trying to catch

an empty boxcar
     rumbling by
whose murky corners
     are ripe 

with fugitive phrases
     waiting to be plucked 
from their
     darkest depths

I want to hobo my way
     on a transcontinental
journey between
     poetic states
a handkerchief
with my favorite words
     slung over my shoulder

Some days
     I love the chase

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have the bends
     from being so long
beneath the surface
     of everything
and trying to come up
     too fast

I've forgotten

     how to breathe
after being so long
     at the back of the pack
always a day late
     and a rent check short

I don't remember

     what oxygen tastes like
but I'm sure it must be

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mardi Gras 2012 Roundup, Part 3: Okeanos

On Sunday, February 19, Skinz-n-Bonez made our Uptown parade debut with the Krewe of Okeanos. Being a rather new krewe, we were thrilled to have been asked to participate.

Okeanos was scheduled to roll the extended route from Magazine and Jefferson all the way downtown. I had more than a few doubts leading up to the parade as to my abilities to walk a six-mile parade route. It was many years ago (and many pounds ago) that I last walked that far.

I was so excited that I barely slept the night before Okeanos. I have been so enthralled by Mardi Gras since my first one in New Orleans in 2008 that I was completely overwhelmed by the opportunity to be a part of it.

We arrived early at the home of Garrett, one of our superb Soul Sweepers, who had kindly made his home available as a meetup/makeup spot pre-parade. When all costumes and faces were in order, we headed over to Jefferson Avenue, where Okeanos was lining up to roll. We soon found our place behind the Morgus float—a most fitting place for a bone gang—and warmed up as we watched other walking groups find their places among the elaborate floats.

As the parade started and we turned onto Magazine Street, greeted by a throng of smiling and screaming parade-goers, I think we were all finally aware of where we were and what we were doing. At least, this was true for me. 

We strutted our stuff and danced and marched through all six miles of that parade, led by our proud Queen and by the joyous movements of the 504 Tag Team, Dancing Man 504 Darryl Young and Elsie Semmes. We beat our drums and boogied down the illustrious St. Charles Avenue and onto the crowded Canal Street, backed by the thundering rhythms of members of Brooklyn-based percussion group Maracatu New York, who had come down to roll with us. We threw the handmade throws that many had participated in making, from skellie-painted corks to hand-painted masks to Mardi Gras beads. Near the judges’ stand at Gallier Hall, I’m almost positive that I heard someone call us one of the most innovative new women’s krewes of the year. (Or perhaps that’s what I was told after the parade and I’m just assigning the memory to the event.)

I felt not a block of that six-mile walk, so enthralled was I to the magic that is Mardi Gras in New Orleans, to the cheering crowds and the smiling faces and the clapping hands, all the while knowing that they were clapping for us.

As the end of the route neared, exhaustion started to catch up, as did the pain in my feet that had been pushed aside by pure joy all day. Post-parade, some of us went in our own directions, and many wound up along the parade route at Lucky’s on St. Charles, where we spent the rest of the day enjoying the parades from across the avenue, seated comfortably on the patio outside, imbibing the alcohol we had so richly earned.

As the last of Bacchus passed us by, it was time to go home. We knew that cabs would be nonexistent and that public transportation was not an option, so several of us hoofed it, giving us a grand total of at least ten miles walked all day. 

I woke up the next morning barely able to walk, but with the satisfaction that all of my pain had come from doing something that I had dreamed of, something incredibly awesome, and something that would be remembered by at least some of the spectators along that parade route.

I’ve been told that we are now a sub-krewe of Okeanos, and that we will again be participating, no doubt with unbridled glee, in next year’s parade.

Still more to come…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mardi Gras 2012 Roundup, Part 2

On Thursday, Loco and I went our separate ways, as she went to get her skellie on with the rest of our Skinz-n-Bonez krewe in support of the always popular Muses, and I headed to the home of my dear friend and personal Muse Celeste, where a ticket to the coveted Muses ball awaited me, as well as an epic pre-party hosted by Celeste’s husband Joe.

After much imbibing of some delicious punch and other goodies, our pre-party crew headed out to the street to wait for Muses. We arrived sometime after the end of Babylon and near the beginning of Chaos. The revelry continued and the streets became even more crowded as Muses approached.

Celeste had made certain that everyone knew her position on the float, so as float #5 approached we erupted into the street, screaming and calling her name. When she saw all of us, shoes (Muses signature throw) flew through the air. One landed squarely in my hands (I wouldn’t have kept it…I earned my shoe last year by getting drunk and falling under her float…but there were others in our group who would have appreciated it), but it was subsequently poached by a girl nearby who plucked it from my hands. I should have kicked her in the face, but I didn’t want to mar the night with violence, as it had already been interrupted by a shooting a few blocks away.

After Celeste’s float had passed us by, we headed back to Chez Celeste et Joe to ready ourselves for the Muses ball, which was held at the Contemporary Arts Center in the CDB. It wasn’t too terrible a walk from their Garden District abode, but it would have been much more pleasant had I worn more comfortable shoes.

Headlining the ball was none other than rock icon Joan Jett, who still looks and sounds fabulous. Aside from rolling with my Bonez, which I will detail in subsequent parts of this Mardi Gras roundup, the highlight of my Mardi Gras season was standing about 20 feet away from Joan Jett while she belted out I Love Rock ‘n Roll. It was, in a word, epic. And I will be forever grateful to Celeste for allowing me to be a part of the awesome celebration that was the Muses ball.

Long live Muses!

More to come…

Mardi Gras 2012 Roundup, Part 1

I’ve fallen well behind in my intended blogging about my Mardi Gras adventures this year, partly because of the post-Mardi Gras ick that has left me coughing and hacking and bedridden for the past week, but mostly because I’ve gotten so caught up in the excitement of it all that it’s been hard to sit myself down and sort through the cornucopia of images and emotions running through my head.

So before I get into blogging about our Uptown parade debut and Mardi Gras day, some highlights from this year’s Carnival season:

For those familiar with the reputation of Mardi Gras as gleaned from watching special episodes of COPS, I can assure you that this reputation is entirely false, and that such behavior as seen on said show has nothing to do with Mardi Gras, occurs all year long, especially on Bourbon Street, and is perpetuated by drunken tourists. The reason it’s been associated so thoroughly with Mardi Gras is that there are far more drunken tourists here during Carnival season than at any other time of year. In contrast, Mardi Gras is much more of a family affair. Parents and children line St. Charles Avenue, and I’ve often noted that only in New Orleans can you go into a hardware store and buy a ladder with a seat already attached to the top of it for the kiddies.

The 12-day Uptown parade season generally begins with Oshun a week and a half before Mardi Gras. Though a little chilly this year, I was surprised by how many people were out on the route. More people means more competition for good throws, but overall most spectators are courteous to others around them. Oshun led into Saturday’s triple-feature of Pontchartrain, Sparta, and Pygmalion. By Saturday night the weather was considerably colder. I hate the cold, but the Yankee in me thinks I should be able to bear any temperature drop the South should throw at me. Wishing for a cold spell did me no good this year, as it deterred no parade-goers and simply ensured that my poorly insulated house would be very cold overnight. Karma’s a bitch after all, it seems…

Sunday bloomed a beautiful sunny day, and I walked out to Napoleon Avenue, where the Krewe of Carrollton was lined up. Over the years I’ve stopped trying to snap photos during the parades, as it mostly results in me getting smacked in the face by beads when I’m not paying attention, but it was such a glorious day that I managed to snap quite a few pics during the parade, without getting hit in the face. I’d call that a successful day.

On Wednesday, my dear friend Paula (LocoBonez) arrived from Atlanta, and we braved the rain and snagged a good spot along Napoleon for both Druids and the debut of Nyx. Both parades were completely worth it, and we managed to snag almost two full bead bags of loot. Kudos to the lovely ladies of Nyx for their debut…beautiful floats and clever themes all-around. Loco and I had such a good time that we barely noticed that we were soaked to the bone by the end of the parade.

More to come…

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Everybody Must Get Boned

This year marks my fifth Mardi Gras since my successful post-Katrina return to New Orleans, following my initial unsuccessful two-month pre-K migration south. This year, however, instead of standing idly on the sidelines (or neutral ground, as the case may be) letting my inner bead whore take over, I have popped my participation cherry and joined a krewe.

Skinz n Bonez — born in 2011 as the lovechild of Mardi Claw, the Queen herself — is New Orleans’ only female bone gang and rolls in support of the Mardi Gras Indians and with an eye toward furthering the culture of New Orleans’ secondline traditions. The Bonez are accompanied by Soul Sweepers, a skeletal band of escorts whose purpose is to sweep the souls out of our way and to provide security for the krewe. Rolling with the Bonez as well are Darryl “Dancing Man 504” Young and Wildman John of the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians.

My debut with the Bonez occurred this past Saturday, in the oft-overlooked krewedelusion parade, which rolls through the Marigny and French Quarter immediately after Krewe du Vieux. While delusion is only in its third year, KdV has been rolling through the Quarter for 20 years. While smaller, delusion is no less clever or enthusiastic, and I fully expect that with as much time it will be one of the hottest parades in New Orleans.

We began with a pre-party at “the den,” a warehouse space reserved for float-building and throw-making. We stuffed our faces, touched up skellie makeup, noshed on Jello shots (LOTS of them), and prepared to roll.

We lined up along Franklin Street in the Marigny and waited impatiently for KdV to roll by. I’m not sure about the rest of krewes in the the parade, but us Bonez were at maximum enthusiasm during the wait. Even before the parade had begun to roll I was already sporting a bruise on one hand and several blisters on the other from my vigorous tambourine-playing. Thank goodness one of our Soul Sweepers was armed with some skeleton-themed duct tape, which managed to cover the blisters.

The parade itself rolled quickly, with a few delays along the way. I recall passing all my friends at Miss Pat’s annual KdV party near the beginning of the route, and after that the faces became a blur as we frolicked and drummed and chanted our way through the Quarter...led by our Queen and our Dancing Man and our Indian. Our parade, unlike KdV, even took a lap down Bourbon Street, by far the busiest street in the Quarter.

The parade ended on St. Claude Avenue and morphed into the delusion “ball”: a party occurring at all four bars on the corner of Marigny and St. Claude. I think most of the Bonez milled about in the Hi Ho Lounge, which is, after all, our home base.

I consider my first Mardi Gras parade to be a smashing success. I am thrilled to have found such a fantastic and fun group of people to be around for my first Mardi Gras experience. But now that the first parade is over, it’s time to get serious about the next, much longer route we have in store for us on February 19, when Skinz n Bonez rolls with Okeanos, one of the large krewes. It’s a six-mile route, and I have some doubt as to my own ability, and the willingness of my knees and feet, to make that march. But I will do it, and though I may not be able to walk for a week afterward, I will lay in bed in agony and with complete satisfaction knowing that I am now a part of Mardi Gras instead of just a spectator.