EP&M Online Poem

The Last Party on Bourbon Street
    by Arthur Mortensen

Wailing inside the bar,
They thought the storm was far,
A paleolithic dream,

A fantasy to spite,
A pale ghost lost in the night,
Cassandra’s lonely scream.

The lively fruitlessy scanned
Wet papers for a plan
To waken the partygoers,

But underneath good notes
They couldn’t hear the boats
Drifting for lack of rowers.

The drunkards raised their glasses
At passing, shapely asses,
And ordered one more round.

A tout flung wide a door
To show the crowd a whore;
A rat sought out high ground.

A drinker ordered a jumbo
To wash down his gumbo
And felt a chill in his toes.

A tourist from Nevada,
Too smashed to climb a ladder,
Felt something up his nose.

Feeling exempt from slaughter
They failed to notice water
Rising above the sill.

An hour on stolen wine
Blinkered their eyes to brine,
An oily, fetid swill

That swept across the street
Tickling their well-shod feet,
Spoiling their stolen boots

Until they noticed, cursing,
White caps from a hearse ring
Around their knees.  In cahoots

With death, they found themselves
Stuck by a knife that delves
Beneath the skin for hearts.

The water at their necks
Set them adrift as wrecks
Practicing dying arts.

A singer from Tipatina’s
Shouts “you should have seen us;”
Her hair is ragged, shorn.

Wet echoes in the clubs,
A floating chair that rubs
Against a sunken horn

Whose mute floats, bobbing
Among the looters robbing--
One prays for cover, fog,

A dinosaur to roar,
Or Dizzy.  A shattered door,
Bearing a sobbing dog,

Spins loose;  a coffin bangs
Against the overhangs
From crumbling balconies.

Fats Domino's not lost,
But we'll never know the cost
of a city on its knees.

    September 2, 2005