South Rise

©2003, by Jeff Glovsky


Standing like stone at Prytania and Terpsichore…Wishing they’d won that Civil War. The City That Care Forgot, some say. Infusions are needed…

Of cash, and self-worth.

In New Orleans, they dance to Koko Taylor. Sit out on their civil porches, naked, flood their war-torn streets...


Don’t never go to Bourbon or the Quarter but to sweat.

Yet where I met her was a place called Rick’s. All beautiful, reserved, cloud flashing eyes and tempest storms beneath…But cool! And beautiful, reserved…

In fact, outside Rick’s.

Okay, fifteen blocks.

…I followed her, okay? ‘Cause she was beautiful, reserved, alone and cool, and humming to herself…And I felt she could use, like me, the company…

I followed her.

A horse stepped on my camera near that white, two-spired church; I cursed, and bent to pick up what I’d dropped--or what was left of it--and she (my humming hero, not the horse) was gone, or so it seemed.

The roar of Bourbon was impenetrable…A giant Jesus cross was nailed, center of the street: Before it, kids with guts and moustaches passed flyers out, promising Heaven.
A freak in cape and walking stick strode, boots long-striding really nowhere; proud, though; like he owned the place…

And beads rained down as hokies flashed, and poo-nanny-nanny-nanny, ha-cha-cha!

“Yes!,” I hear a cry behind me. “Shit, yeah…,” a familiar tone. I look up…There’s my humming hero smiling toward a T-shirt.

“Are You Horny?”, this thing read…And she had answered! Twice…

Affirmatively.

Sobbing, I slow down for her and tell her she’s my hero!

“I’m your hero? What does that mean?,” she’s half-laughing. “I ain’t no one’s hero.”

…Not so placid, it turns out; in fact, she’s near unhinged. She laughs and throws her wild head back, swears like Satan near the Jesus cross…Slams down a Hurricane, then sticks her head into a trash can, hurls. She’s up in tourists’ faces; pretzled, laughing like a crack addict…She’s got her black sunglasses on and makes like Stevie Wonder.

Then, she jumps up on my back and rides, tight skirt around her waist! I wonder, can this be the same bright storm? My Gentle Tempest Hero? She is humming…And my head is spinning!

On and on she roars, like Bourbon…

Tap dancers implore the tourists. Alizette slides off my back and gallops head-long into them: She slaps her ass, the tourists laugh, the dancers tap away like keyboards…Beads rain drunkenly from swaying fingers, poo-nan-nannies flash…

She spins around a light pole singing something like a country song.

To maintain dignity in light of this is fairly hopeless. I can only hope she doesn’t yell my name, which I have given her…Or yell out that I’m raping her, or taking her someplace…

Both which she does, of course, as cameras smile; soon, we are the toast of Bourbon. Rex, and his fucked Queen…who falls repeatedly, scratches her nose, shouts curses, rails, sprains her ankles…Bends to clean her toes of sloshing drink (hiked skirt around her waist), and generally amuses me yet brings me to my knees.

I cannot function! Vital signs all dead…Froze smile plastered to my stupid face, as though I’m meant to please her…

“I don’t wanna lose my buzz!,” she screams. “Dawg, I ain’t even drunk yet!”

…I promise to buy her another Hurricane. “First, I have to pee someplace…”

“Me, too!,” she hollers. “It’s okay, I’ll hold it. I can hold it…I can…”

Runs off down the street, into the crowd, like Jerry Lewis.

“You won’ leave ‘er hangin’, huh?”

“Haw haw…She got a man! She’s safe…”

“Shoot! Ugly, skanky bitch…”

“I ain’t a slut!,” my Alizette roars back. “Dawg, I gotta go somewhere and piss…?”

I push her in a jazz club and I disappear into the crowd of gawken, drunking instigators (Three, four hours later, Alizette’s showing her panties to another Northern idiot…who thinks he’s gotten lucky in a doorway with a Southern belle!)…The walls come down like proclamations. Façades fall like Dixie front lines…

Wish they’d won that Civil War. I pour into the Hummingbird, post-party…There’s a war on there: the black and old, the old and white, the young…New Orleans, birth of jazz…

The bar, sit two young beauties with their lips wet, like all cum-glistened. They catch my eye, but I decide to leave these mansions go: the lacquered faces and restored front porches, smoking in the neon harsh of daybreak in New Orleans.

One has AIDS, it gets revealed, to a suitor making time, or trying. “Swear,” she says, raising an arm. “Don’ ask me how I got it…”

See the door slam on the suitor’s ass….My eggs come.

Between nodding bites (‘twixt sleep and hunger), I lay on the ketchup, finish finally, take a walk outside…Molasses, clinging morning; smell of indolence and sin and loss and daily battles yet unwaged: The jobs, the drugs…first steaming cup of coffee to confront it all...

Another day, in other words.

Past streetcars named desire once, past callers gentlemanly still...down wooded, hooded white lanes of rich hatred, ingrained poverty…The black and old, the white and young, the Old…The South might rise again…

That statue of Robert E. Lee, traffic circle; like stone on that rise at Prytania and Terpsichore...

* * *

originally published (2004) in Thieves Jargon

To Natalie, who inspired the title and Patti, who inspired me ... and everyone else who appears in these stories and in me, in some way, to this very day ...


Underwear Woman Digs the Sea

(These Are Some Travel Stories!)

©1999-2013 by Jeff Glovsky.  All Rights Reserved.

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