I stayed on till closing time. Tourists thinned,
picked up again, the night was good business.
Unsavory, seedy brothers by day,
by night sisters hustling to get money.
I loved New Orleans was never dull.
It was also good to flex the senses,
especially in the dark. I changed pace
and if the sound behind me changed I turned
to see if there was someone in pursuit,
or if footsteps signaled more than one pair
of feet falling . . . Daylight meant nothing less
beyond the crowds. I could be persuaded
of the value of even bigoted,
racist guardians of law being near,
especially since I was white like them,
but the black cops I trusted most of all
being as in the old days I drove cars
through the shantytowns of fear, we called them,
from here through Mississippi to Georgia.
When this former model from Manhattan
came home to Alabama and we met
there to make love to music crickets made,
Hida never went back to work again,
not in the Apple. Continued cocaine,
though, turned tricks in Birmingham to buy it,
lost the hue of her healthy skin, her looks,
turned up a derelict in Santa Fe,
where I saw her last, then heard she had died.
Cathleen and I, from Silver Avenue,
Albuquerque, went to the unmarked grave,
Cathleen flush enough to put up a stone.
Santa Fe of course didn't know the name.
She had one friend who followed her from home
here, said she was so frail her heart gave out.
I left him with coke to snort, Thunderbird
flowing like water through his empty shell
of a body bereft of food. Hida
left him briefly, and in Albuquerque
met Cathleen living alone, and through her
the man on the west mesa she wanted
who ignored her, a football coach by day,
at night pimping from the Radisson bar.
In San Francisco Cathleen designed clothes
ladies of means also wore in Paris.
(17 August 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander