Mardi Gras Without Spo-dee-o
For Tonya Maria
By Rudolph Lewis
I am a rag doll in the jaws
of a mad dog on New Year’s Eve.
Mayor Nagin wants to remember
the dead when he betrays the living.
He better not walk the streets
of Houston when the sun goes down,
says a homeless refugee. At Palm Court
in the French
Quarter jazzmen open their horn
cases for 90-dollar diners—haute cuisine,
all-night bars, steamboats & courtyards
the lowering of a giant gumbo pot.
Down the road on the corner
at Claiborne Avenue a Red Cross
truck hands out 200 meals a day
New Year’s in the Big Easy
is a a bearded cowboy
in an empty beer cup
holding a second-line umbrella
marching with The Pussyfooters
in colorful pink wigs
kicking high in frilly boots
scores of onlookers
in shades of glee and inebriation.
Oil and gas companies
& merchant marines stroll hand in
hand down Bourbon Street, as if
Hurricane Katrina never came by
looking at their faces . . .
Is this a holiday
of no-bids to make it all better,
culture in front seat, politics in back?
Can we have a Mardi Gras with
white men in black
Latinos dressed as Mardi Gras
Tourists cannot tell culture
& Chinese beads.
a well-crafted illusion of turning
sorrow into joy, death into life.
In your madness: Show me
Fly Boy—let them come.
Let them be on the battlefield
on Mardi Gras morn, you
got to sew to capture the holiday.
There's no Mardi Gras
without old black men tacking
quilt pieces on floats, without
without young women, making
hotel beds, washing restaurant
trash cans, caramel players
of jazz coronets, without invisible
up the drunken mess.
No Mardi Gras without Big Chief
Monk Boudreaux & his Queen,
The Uptown Rulers
The Wild Magnolias & The Dirty
Sign the petition—No! We will not
celebrate homelessness & misery.
There’s no Mardi Gras without
6 January 2006