by William Gillespie and Dirk Stratton

Gumbo, your thick distillation of the sea helped us walk the uneven streets and haul the books back to that hotel room we were slowly transforming into a library. Mufaletta, your peculiar amalgamation of red meat ferried us through the nether regions, as the lower Mississippi passed large barges of waste. Anonymous dive, maybe called Half Shell, we can never miss your neon gothic blackletter marquee, circular red vinyl booths, candleholders, vases bearing pink flowers (I will miss the flowers), corner with the upright video poker machines where no person under the age of 18 is allowed inside, PLEASE SEAT YOURSELF, and your small American flag which I know damn well denotes nothing for you. Mardi Gras beads, ubiquitous tourist noose, economic mainstay, neon boob-flash barter, tossed from balconies, dropped on the streets, crushed underfoot, swimming in Hurricane vomit, we await your distorted reflection. Music, tawdry obvious music. The good thing is live music on every street corner, the bad thing is music I have already heard, having nothing to do with New Orleans.

"I will not exchange money."

Strange hotel, your keycards fail frequently, your coffee pots are glued to the hot plate, your swimming pool is merely a jacuzzi, and you reside near a church that has something akin to "virgin labia" (in Latin) carved in stone above the doorway (as if). Bourbon Street, by now you know that we will never show you our tits. And enigma, who sits every day on Canal Street with two chessboards and a tip bucket. Whatever you're doing, I have the utmost admiration for it.