Nothing about this town is quiet, not even the lights
I can hear barges on the Mississippi from my 24th floor hotel room.
Beer spills over the lips of plastic cups as
people stumble out of Bourbon Street doorways, shouting and slurring
The chest-thumping sounds of drums follow them.
Unless you want to converse with a perfect stranger, best to avoid eye contact.
But there's no way to miss the men with faces of silver
The sights jangle your senses.
Loop after loop of shiny plastic beads in every color beckon from shops.
So do feathered masks (made in China)
Neon things I'm too shy to describe
One place looks dark, but it's just subtle;
Inside are linen covered tables and silver forks and knives,
male waiters with crisp manners
And next door, in front of a rusting pull-down garage door,
servers are smoking and gossiping
I'm faintly scared and perversely fascinated
I walk fast as the sun sets
and those who live at night emerge.
I hurry past them
but listen for their cadences
I sit by the river and eat gulf shimp, hush puppies, and fries
A small combo plays blues as river breezes
make me cold but not too cold
A Minnesotan in the Big Easy
Thousands of miles separate us
but a mighty river connect us
And yet, I am alone
A stranger in a strange land