Vieux Carre • Jessica McMichael

Juxtaposed between the Mississippi and the swamp
is the beaded ulcer of the South’s stomach.

Where boys smear crimson gloss on their lips and
the girls slide past their teeth;
Where I owned the cobblestone and sludge in the gutters;
Where the river spills life from its sodden womb;
Where I ran through alleys and tasted the bitterness of adoration;
Where I saw the world through a virgin’s eyes and
wept at the beauty of the rusty, dusk dry sky.

Nestled inside New Orleans, a pomegranate tree whose fruit is
decaying on the branch, spilling nectar from corroded skin.

Where incense is burned from doorways
and velvet is draped from balconies;
Where I put my hands in gloves to keep them warm;
Where the blood that’s spilt is washed away by dawn;
Where names written in cement and bathroom wall graffiti
are more precious than literature found on shelves.

Vieux Carre - a desolate wasteland of angels and masks, of
morbid splendor, left in my mouth the taste of rotten wine
and empty bottles for my eyes.