waitress poems

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Note: This poem, a celebration of New Orleans' famous jazz funerals, was first published in the jazz magazine, Brilliant Corners. It was the first poem I chose to put up on the blog. With all of our minds on the city of New Orleans and its endangered culture, I thought I would post it again.

When I die, I want a funeral
like the Chicken Man had
in New Orleans. For once,
let them bury a shy writer
like they bury voodoo priests--
with gin splashed on my old suit and
two white horses to drag me
in my sorry box
through streets exalted
by sweat and neon.
May enough people know me
for my eccentricity or for my songs
that a few will join
in the ecstatic mourning
when the man with the black umbrella
steps forth to lead my parade.
Let the the dirge be short and
the jazz blow
till the sidewalks cough up steam
and every shoulder shimmies.
If someone steps up
to speak of me, make sure they say
that like the Chicken man,
I was a poet,
fated to walk through life
in a black top hat
with a monkey skull in one fist,
a staff
topped with a plastic human hand
in the other,
and that when I had them,
I passed out candles
to the multitude
who still clamor
for blessings on the street.

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