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French Quarter Tour

Let me get the door–come in!
The dogs are dancing sideways
Maddie howls for family
Mojo always yelps for love
and gambols on the slate
–once in, you’re theirs forever.

It’s been too long–you’ve been
always welcome. We’ve time
enough to show you where we landed
this time–upside down I know, OK
the front door does face sideways
to the lot–you enter not
where one expects it–ah!
the winter room for plants, jammed
hard by cages draped in towels
drying from a late spring slush
sleet feels like coming home
for sled dogs this far south
and snow falls down like manna.

The kitchen’s one floor up
our office one still further
all told an eccentric’s flight
on this precious wedge of lakefront.
Step up and over, come around
the landing’s in the way
and the fireplace is near the size
a walk-in hearth for spitting pigs
it smokes like bloody hell and yeah
the carpet’s seen some years, but look
the bayou’s hung with trees.

This downstairs room is popular
hard to miss the view
it has good bones, although
twin fans in polished brass
with suspended bulging eyeball lamps
would not have been a first choice nor
the ones ensconced in copper bugles
designer themed for fox hunts nor
the oak bar like a judge’s bench.
The room has been a comfort though
antique brick and rough-sawn joists
a gridded view for looking on
the driving snow last winter.
D’s present was my stereo
for Brahms and Counting Crows
to play along with working drafts
by Bloom for context
Yeats and Shakespeare.

First coming on its preciousness
a well marked peasant cottage
barely tied to present day
nor to land at all like Crusoe’s perch
above the beach, one good tide
could sweep the cove with no
good dock to land a yacht.

From a home in Barcroft hills
–from Stonybrae on evening walks
our senior dog who’d joined the clan
then the youngsters bounding
narrow roads in rain or snow
surprising cars and yard dogs
cats too arrogant to flee
YELLOW! God, who’d want
a house too cute by half?
Last summer in the evening
all beasts pulling toward
our separate ends,
the sales sign made us pause
you wanna see inside?

Could be trying for French Quarter
wrought iron in a Dawkins meme
bay window overhangs the floor
below, brick walk with formal
boxwood, the world’s largest
white azealia by the door. Upstairs
we found a blue striped living room
cornice working toward rococo
emptied recently I’m sure
of German cherubs
painted in those baby hues
perched on mantle on their doilies
with bags of fuming sachets, lace
to hang a proper thief, you’re smiling yeah, and still it was distinct
seen on weather walks it seemed
an old world pier with water
lapping just beyond.

Descending from the street
notes of traffic fall away to chimes
one blue heron gliding through.
We’ve but started weeding
this long-neglected garden.
Tearing ivy from the trees
and limbing decades old azaleas
leggy rhododendrons they hadn’t seen
sun nor love in so long, buried
deep in weeds each weekend
new discoveries. With the poplars
and the oaks, one tall hickory and maples
so little sun leaks through we’ve moss
for lawn and roof. Yet pause
outside a moment, hear
the water noise and smell
the laden air, tranquility.

I see a piling in mind’s eye
at the far point near the listing dock
by the tree that leans on gravity, I see
clustered piles, a tolling bell
off the shore a ways, a quay
if worth the name, a feudal lantern
glowing yellow back the other way
a landslide done of garden stones
craned gently in, a waterfall
the sound of water over rocks
a quiet pool entwined in shadows
elephantine hostas sprawling
scant feet above the lotus blooms
a Lutyens bench a set for words
with evening shades.

The bayou’s in its prime again
the heron stalks the boat. The storms
have morphed from snow to rain.
A lack of sun so long is making
we beastly dogs morose. And I
remember winter blanketing the hills
alluring wildness barely staved off.
A beaver cruised in yesterday
low-riding by the seawall
you see nose and tail and naught between
–someone’s tree’s in trouble.
Our stalwart hunting bitch is plotting
ambush on the geese, neck proud
with their littles now escorting
their small victories. Neighbors’
party barges U-turn slowly
just before the dock as do
the ducks. We wave and talk
to boaters, geese talk back.

We’re noted in these parts–Go
past the yellow bungalow
before you turn
, and such
they use us for directions, cute.

Sitting into evening
breathing in the coolness
last lake views, the dogs and I
we listen to the city flocks
May’s SUV’s still circling. The war’s
been done for weeks so Bush declared
those bad Muslims put in place.
We wait to see what comes on shining
with the ashes down the Tigris.

The rain!

The days have been stone gray
Seattle’s jumped the continent.
A melancholy soul could weep
for sun and sweat. The male
becomes a woeful beast
working dogs we turn so blue.

The kitchen’s small when Jason comes
we three don’t fit with knives.
Been plying dinners frequently
his true Colleen as witness
spiced Mediterranean with wine
of course and music–he says
he does agree ever since Nirvana
grunge hasn’t been the same.

We junked the old stove recently found
gas and now we cook; the frig is next.
Saving for an island over where
the table is and pushing out a room
to overlook this soulful view. I worked
the plans at Christmas, bizarre
therapy–añejo, spinning hours
mind with crawling fire ants
I might have burned it down
turned against the smoke
and screamed.

D works upstairs these days
–the mansard room you never saw
we thought it could be yours.
She’s cabled to the larger world,

Mojo curled beneath her feet
napping in the knee space
Maddie dozing two floors down
the time I make it home they just

erupt from too much torpor.
We head over to the trail most
nights for runs or if it rains
a local thrash of puddles

better suits a doleful mood.
So daunting to take it up again
running seems betrayal
chasing after immortality when

with every stride I’m leaving you.
We do our best to occupy
these days, you’ll hear us talk
to keep you in the family news.

The dogs remember–Maddie knows
whose lap she rode in her first car.
I wish you’d seen the place
before you had to leave for Tech.

May, ‘03