The Cathedral / Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France
All souls in New Orleans are beautiful
when the mist serves us heavenly air
trapped on wet streets, the park noises,
young artists wash feet with a little
fountain water. We crawl along black brick
long cracked streets aimed at the Mississippi.
Fog like smoky faces unbound wishes
humid people, lives eyeing around
the quarter for someone, anyone to tell us
about the parties, the great restaurants,
the crowded bars and discreet strip clubs.
All the rewards complete test and happiness.
If we could live in this parish forever
we could be truly happy our entire lives.
Then a wedding opens chilled cathedral doors
with smells of an ordination at the Vatican.
Grey marble and incense – intoxicates
honors the crowd, union heart throb Christ.
Sounds draw us nearer the ground in reverence
kneeling beneath the sun and crescent moon.
Our minds now unclouded, sins confessed.
Forgiveness is a city of saints, Louis singing
a song for Saint Joseph. He sings also
for the sinners – bourbon street window swingers
bad barkers next to three card monty dealers
near Café Du Monde where a homeless man
hit on me as we sat on black iron benches in the park
with the Civil War cannon, model 1861 parrot rifle.
He said I had real fair skin and I was sweating.
Beignet powdered sugar fell everywhere.
I smiled, listened, chatted with him for a time
about artillery and pirates, about the Jax brewery,
voodoo. Then I went and had a few beers
at the brewery, stumbled back to the Basilica
and with other flaming hearts looked skyward.
We prayed, recited plaque history, visitations
always pondering a pilgrimage to another bar.
Revelation love from local parishioners
indulging the way sinners often indulge.
Tyler Farrell was born in Illinois and grew up in Milwaukee. He has published poems, essays, and reviews in many periodicals, and a biographical essay for James Liddy’s Selected Poems (Arlen House, 2011). He teaches writing and literature at Marquette University and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife Joan and their two sons. He has published two collections of poetry with Salmon, Tethered to the Earth (2008) and, his new book, The Land of Give and Take (2012).