The Bogue Shadowe

In Nawlins, Sugar,
You are lucky if you can learn
to bite the head off the city
and suck out all the salt/earth/seaguts
from a blackened thumbnail.
The sweet gritty meat of jazz is your reward.

In Nawlins, Baby,
the mists rise and gild the Promise Stump.
Marie Laveau and Jean Lafitte promenade
after midnight when the streets begin to churn.

Turn quick—from the corner of your eye, goat’s head,
a voodoo charm with a Catholic twist.
The debutante’s cotillion never marred, steeped
in magnolia-scented ignorance that on Bourbon Street
Black children Bo Jangle for dimes on the esplanade.

In Nawlins, Sugar,
The restroom attendants at the saturated Jazz Fest
fight over who gets the tiny tip.
They ain’t been to one event, been scrubbin’ potties.
But you have you a time, Sugar, in Nawlins now.

In Nawlins, Sugar,
from Chapatoulis to Rampart to Magazine
beer-soaked blat of pelvis-powered bones and trombones
whine, the Cajun chang chang rings from open doors.
You know anything could happen as Nawlins seeks
your shadow side, your bogue shadowe.

—Norma Gay Prewett