Friday, August 15, 2014

Celebrating Poetry in Louisiana

Melinda Palacio
I can walk on my cast now. Thank you for all of your healing thoughts
My journey towards walking again began last week. I am able to put weight on my cast. Although I'm pretty good with hoisting my body on crutches, I am relieved to be walking. Soon I won't need a cane or the cast I've been wearing for the past two months. Thank you to everyone for your healing thoughts and positive energy. La Bloga took a little hit this Summer with my broken leg and Michael Sedano's scare in the emergency room, but we are back stronger. While I didn't have Sedano's mandate from ancestors to go back in line, I did experience an epiphany of sorts while under heavy hospital drugs, where I was dropped into the sea of love and realized that everything is love.

My first official outing, both fun and literary was to New Iberia and Lafayette's Word Lab. My friends Jonathan Klein and Gina Ferrara were presenting at 2pm and wanted to make a pilgrimage to Avery Island's Buddha statue. Jonathan read from his new book, the Wisdom of Ashes. Earlier in the year, he read with Daniel Chacon at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Of Gina's last book, Amber Porchlight, Frank Mundo of the Examiner says: "Charged with light, beauty and a touch of danger and heat, Amber Porch Light by Gina Ferrara is a powerful, memorable collection." 
Avery Island, New Iberia, Louisiana
The last time I was at Avery Island, several alligators emerged from the swamp. Luckily, I jumped in the car before they got too close. Avery island is ideal for someone with mobility issues. You can tour the entire island from your car, get out and sit at the different stops. The island is best known for its production of Tabasco sauce.  At the factory, you can try Tabasco ice cream and different flavors of Tabasco sauce.

Maple Leaf Rag V, Portal Press 2014

SRO crowd at the back patio of the Maple Leaf Bar

Reading a poem at the Maple Leaf Bar's back patio

The next day, last Sunday, I participated in the celebration for the Maple Leaf Rag V Anthology. The Maple Leaf Bar is the oldest running poetry reading series in the South. Started by Everett Maddox Maddox, the series has continued for thirty-five years. Currently, poet Nancy Harris took over the series after Everett's death in 1989. Publisher John Travis, owner of Portals Press has published the last four Maple Leaf Rag Anthologies. I have had the honor of being published in the last two volumes, along with my favorite South Louisiana writer, Steve Beisner
 From the Maple Leaf Rag V Anthology, Portals Press 2014.

hold her close
Steve Beisner

new orleans has wet and mud where people walk and stand
and know the earth they’re livin' on and how it feels to hold her close

through her nearby marshes oil canals cut obscenely straight and narrow
run miles through watery green, a highway of danger for muskrats and nutria

leafy sinews strangle the house who lost her family two summers ago
soon, with no friend, losing her battle with flora, ruin

potholes kill and eat incautious cars where there're guns enough
that someone always wants to see what steel and absent hope can do

you choose your costume for the day to say yesterday's gone,
tomorrow's not come and you got one shot at now

overhead the white-cloud virginal bandana floats, a hand's wavin’
sayin' my life's an all night dance and I mean somethin' by it

the lady says, how you doin' and really wants you to know that
different got it all over respectable and a little crazy ain't bad either

you’re no stranger after a beer and swapped stories in the cool dark bar
you want today's road to be one you'll still remember tomorrow

the meaning of barstool stories is not in the words,
but how they dart and pause, unwrap and disrobe the tellers

new orleans has wet and mud where people walk and stand
and know the earth they’re livin' on and how it feels to hold her close


Chris Wiltz said...

Wonderful blog, Melinda. You look great. And I love Steve's poem. It's a knockout and so true. He nailed the place and the way people feel about it.

Unknown said...

Melinda, you are indeed close to no more cast. I loved the blog and Steve's poem. Be safe.