"Fuck her!" I said to the Dixie moon
And breathed in the scent of jasmine.
And felt fried bleached hair.
 
Legba
in the
French Market

Kenny Klein
art by Steve Cartwright

 

This is what happened the night I met Legba
At the French Market.







The mist was thick as absinthe as I
Turned the corner onto Rampart
So thick it muffled the sounds of
Traffic off on Barracks street
So thick it gathered the scent
Of bougainvillea and honeysuckle
And I walked past Ursuines breathing
In the night like the cheap perfume
On that little crack whore I
Screwed in Denver.
By the time I crossed Dumaine
I could feel her bleach fried hair
I could taste her nicotine breath
I could feel her insubstantial arms
Around my neck. I could
Hear those tiny, hoarse moans she made
Probably for my benefit, cause
I don't think she could ever fucking come.
"Fuck her!" I said to the Dixie moon
I couldn't help but fall in love with her;
After all she was so damn vulnerable
And her legs were as thin as pencils
And she wore that mini dress
With the stains on the crotch
And those clunky, sexy shoes that she
Only wore A) to turn me on and
B) because they were her only pair.
Until I bought her a second pair
Exactly like the first.

"Fuck her!" I said as I reached
Chartres, and that's when
I heard the wind speak.
Now I thought at first it was a riverboat
Churning Mississippi water, bringing
Tourists to Plaquemine, but no
And I thought it might be a heron
With pencil thin legs
In some algae swamp in Algiers
Across the wide Mississippi
But no. The wind spoke, again
And I didn't think it was weird
And I could feel the wind on my face
Like breath, with the
Stench of Ripple and Camel 100's.
No, I didn't think it was weird, and I
Didn't run like fuck through
The gay section of Bourbon till I
Reached the comfort of idiot tourists
Looking desperately for a cheap high
And a cheap thrill. No I
Didn't jump like a frightened rabbit
Into that bakery where goth boys make honey tarts
And serve strong coffee, like a kiss.
I stood and listened to the wind
And it spoke my name.
"Meet me at the crossroads, boy,"
There was a pause.
"Meet me at the crossroads, boy
I'm still there, waiting," the wind said,
"Just like the day old Bob Johnson found me.
Meet me at the crossroads, boy,
Where Willie Brown stood crying.
I'm hungry, son. I'm starving.
And it's so easy. Just call my name.
You know my name boy, don't you?
Don't you?" and the wind whistled
With begnoit scents and beer fumes
"Legba. Scratch. Piewhackett. Hob.
I am waiting for you boy, and
I am awful hungry!"
The wind spoke, and I stood still
And tilted my head, the way
I tilted my head when those
Scrawny arms hung around my neck
When those nicotine stained lips
Kissed my cheeks and earlobes
And the crack whore with pencil legs
Nodded off in my lap
And my legs fell asleep, and I couldn't move.
Like now.
And the wind said "I am still here, boy,
This is my domain.
And I am hungry, boy, because
The souls here used to be thick with longing
The souls here used to be thick with desire
The souls here used to be thick with dreaming
The souls here used to be thick with passion
They filled me like nectar
They filled me like tupelo honey
They filled me like jasmine scent
O, make me a blues man!
O, make me a rich plantation owner
O, bring me that girl with the cherry lips and the long silk stockings
O, let me find the gold doubloons that's
Buried in my daddy's farm!
Those souls are died now,"
And the wind died down a little,
The way blue eyes droop when they
Nod off into dreamy sleep
Until it was just a little breeze from the river
That smelled like gas lamps, and pipe tobacco
And the way a girl smells when she's
Just been swimming, and her long,
Pencil thin legs are cold to touch.
And Legba whispered in my ear
"I'll ease your pain, boy
Yes I will,
I'll put you right.
I'll suck in your eyes, that
Grow weary, like the faded blue of a Rite Aid sign
I'll quench that hunger that grows
Fiercer, one Big Mac at a time
I'll eat your liver like harpies
Washed down with Starbucks coffee
I'll crush that heart that aches
For the touch of waif thighs
In running hose.
No, boy, you won't feel the pain of
Not having that shiny Lexus
When you leave the casino, pockets empty
You won't feel a single regret
O, whisper lies in some sweet child's ear
It won't matter no how!
Meet me at the crossroads boy, say
Half past a nightmare.
Because the souls here are thin now
Thin like processed cheese food
Thin like wedding vows
Thin like a rose tattoo on a college girl's ankle
Thin like I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!
And I am hungry!"

Did I run that night like a frightened cat
To that bar on St. Charles
Where the waitress is so tall and lovely and
She ignores me no matter
How well I tip?
No. Did I scamper like a possum
To the lights and squalor of Bourbon Street
Where strippers pick their way home through
Broken bottles in their six inch heels
As the sun comes up over Jackson Square?
Did I? No. Here is what I did
That night when the mist was thick and
The wind spoke like a shiver.
I walked down to the River, where the breeze flowed
Like jasmine perfume.
I walked past Café DuMonde,
And the old trolley station,
To the Y shaped junction of the French Market
Where skater punks sit in lonely midnight
In Legba's sweet domain.
I let the breeze lull me like cinnamon
I breathed in the night like laudanum
I walked like a black cat on an
Old dirt road beside the river Styx
To the junction, to Piewhacket
To Old Devil Scratch
And when I stopped, and opened my eyes
Head tilted,
There was Legba, standing still and
Willow thin,
One hand on bony hip, the
Other holding a cigarette to reddened lips
In a miniskirt, and bleach fried hair
Her pencil thin legs ending in
Clunky, sexy shoes.
"You wanna date?" Legba whispered.
 

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