New Orleans

These days you’re likely to arrive by air,
and before you’re off the plane,
the warm, humid air envelopes you
as if you’ve stepped into a sponge.
And then, underneath the palms,
downstairs from muddy river,
you work your way through panhandlers
and street performers whose talents range
from impoverished brilliance
to should-have-stayed-at-home,
and, yes, it’s dirty and rowdy,
the French you thought you knew
invalidated by streets
pronounced Cont-eye and BurGUNdy.
And yet, despite the drunken tourist hordes
And the speed with which your cash evaporates,
A kind of reciprocity occurs:
This city does absorb you as it seeps into your soul.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

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