In the City

Beverly passes us the pitcher of Yuengling and says “I don’t care what y’all do, baby” when I ask her if Alex could bring in his guitar. Older but beautiful, wrinkled but youthful tending bar and singing along to Roy Buchanan’s “Beer Drinking Woman,” smiling wide at me when I start singing, too.

I’m not sure what’s next, really. Things swirl together steadily and I admit I can’t sit still. I rotate my bar seat back and forth with anxious hips. The three of us clink our glasses repeatedly, as if we couldn’t toast to life enough, bringing the foaming head of another beer to our lips in disbelief that no one's called our many bluffs, letting us entertain a stage even though our talent is rough. I can’t believe all of this serendipity. I can’t believe I’ve drawn these people to me, the faces in which I clearly see my destiny beaming back.

We leave the bar and I stack myself in the KIA with Alex’s sketchpad and instruments, giving the keys to Margie.
We queue up the music and sing, more, always.

We’re in the city
She came around at the right time
And if you’ll need me
Hope this was made for a good time
It’s like the run to all we know
Seems like we want to always go

To sit in the backseat is to feel weight lifted from my shoulders, letting my sister take my wheel for a minute so I can chill. Letting Alex sit up front so he can stretch his legs. To sit in the backseat is to leave the bar across the street from Fringe with a buzzing happiness humming on my lips, letting my voice reach the voices of my friends, letting our voices reach the highway streaming past our cracked windows. No one is timid or shy as we rush along the skyline, crossing the Fuller Warren, heading back to Grove Park where even more music will be made. 

It seems to fall out of us these days, colliding our vibrations by the fire until my throat cries out for mercy.
Until his fingers stumble drunkenly for a place to rest.

Until the final echoes hit the walls and bounce back into our chests. 

Focus Unnecessary // Our living room


I know I'm not wrong

Do you know what it means to miss the dark energy
of a world that loses its mind with planned synchronicity?

I chase Angie (pronounced An-zhee) into the galleries of Royal Street,
keeping her lipstick-red wig a fixture in my sight. I dig the heights
of ceilings in New Orleans but I wish I could take pictures.
I can’t tell facsimile from reality and the jewel tone of her pants bleeds
into the waiting hands of cherubs painted on suspended canvas.

She wants another drink already.
I’m in similar spirits and we wander planless through the Quarter,
pretending we're swingin jazzcats instead of whitebread like we look.
I lovingly stare down the dreadlocked heads of train-hopping “gutter trash”
and think "I'd rather be associated with that
than be labelled as a white girl."

This city's revelry calls to me, a swampland full of lessons for the listening,
and I do. I accept the rasp of muted trombone as sacrament,
the hush of holy reverence in the flush of liquored cheeks.
The dance with ancient history in the making.

A voice speaks:
"And I was never here
but it didn’t used to be that way."

The voice also tells me that I am Jesus, and it's tempting -
that His Divinity might simply be a smiling girl on a streetcar,
that the way, the truth and the light are not so far.

Of course I know I'm wrong, but the thought fills up my ego.
I savor the stranger’s knuckles that graze my shoulder blades
in rhythm to the road bumps as we go.

"Who dat, red hair?!" comes a catcall from the nightfall.

I'd rather be Jesus than a white girl but I'll take whatever this is.
I could be the guiding star or perhaps just made of ash pressed onto foreheads...
I think I am awhirl with planetary nobility.
I think I'm of a class that rises in tranquility as the sun declines over Poydras.

My ability to seek out wondrous dichotomy never ceases
and my eyes leak and hide behind folds and creases of wrinkled vision.
I laugh in the face of a chill coming over as I wrap myself in sips of Fireball.

Whiskey warmth. Catcalls from the nightfall.
I see myself in the seat of it all, surrounded and alone,
my eyes swirling with the saxophone and scanning the crowd for a red wig,
finding Angie and placing my hand on her head.

And I was never here
But it didn’t used to be that way



Sbisa // "my heart beat like a hammer"

I would liken you to a night spent in the simple silence of listening
were it not for the thunders of your utterance,  
of your applause.

'You’ve so much to offer and we’ve so much to receive,' the universe says to me,
unrolling old scrolls stowed on dusted shelves carefully.
The story is there; in the vacancy of weeded lots,

on streetcars,

on painted floors where koi fish swim with dancing bears,
at desks and leaning back in office chairs.
The universe unfolds

exactly as it should:
with no concern for plot.

Sbisa // George Dureau


Thoughts scattered all across the grey matter

"That cat's deaf and he's missing a few teeth, and don't pet him he's got gunk. He's a good cat though."
No words of mine are any good without the code key of 25 years’ collected anecdotes and "overheards" thrown together like green stamps in a storage unit.

Moisture creeps in, mold perhaps.
My thoughts were never built to last but they are my prize possessions,
laying revision over vision until my entire life is the blur of rain under shitty windshield wipers.

This life, now, the one I’ve stepped into, is as peachy keen as apple pie and all the other lies TV told us.

How did this happen? How did I trade that set of realities for these?
In the morning I’ll unlock a door, slide into an office chair and settle in... 
This week I'll climb onstage, cough clarity into my voice and settle in...

Heh. This voice. What right do I have to a voice?

The only ground I have to stand on belongs to a ten-year old in Disney overalls sneaking oatmeal cream pies from the shelter pantry, accepting Christmas gifts from churches. She still seeks validation, she still fears that the irresponsible junkie in her veins will rear an unruly head against held reins. She remembers what insanity looks like, plunging kitchen cutlery into aging bellies, pulling blubbery steel against leathered skin.

She remembers what life was like before happiness could begin.

This happiness, though, deserves a context that I’m unwilling to give.
I’ll fake the smiles and shake the whitebread hands rather than relive
the late night warnings to stay away from heroin.

No worries, that reflex is built the fuck in.

(so strongly that I’d choose silence
over looking in your addled eyes again)

"No, cat. I am allergic. Stay back, cat."