Gail White: Revisiting New Orleans (Poetry)


Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born in Florida, I’ve lived in Louisiana since 1976, 17 years in New Orleans, the rest in Cajun country. South Louisiana is strange even by Southern standards: We think Mardi Gras is a national holiday, that a Catlick church is all the religion a community needs, and that the ideal gift for all occasions is a fifth of booze. We suck heads & pinch tails (of crawfish).

Revisiting New Orleans

My old house needs new paint, but what the hell,
it survived Katrina, didn’t it? Nobody died,
did they? I call that doing pretty well.
This is a city where we all take pride

in our corruption. And for seventeen
years I was part of it. To love the place
you should be young and poor. I made the scene
when Preservation Hall, the finest space

for jazz, cost just two dollars at the door.
I moved away for money. Now I know
that was a vile excuse. I’m looking for
the joie de vivre I had when I was so

poor I could live on rice and red beans, heat
the back rooms with the oven, and so young
I thought love might sashay up Royal Street
with all the gold the Krewe of Bacchus flung.

But no, I’m not that person anymore.
I’m just a tourist in a tourist’s town.
No longer young, free-spirited, and poor,
I buy a Sazerac and drink it down.