Fugue state

He’s a junky for the tune. He can’t kick it, the kick he gets,
like one Saturday— he was ten —and the Governor came to town
to see his father, drove all the way from the capital like he would
do once in a while ’cause they were friends, pals really,
the Governor and his dad, horny pals from the old days,
boyhood days, before they both sold their innocence.

That was the Saturday he and his daddy nearly killed the Governor
out in the Gulf in a furor and frenzy. Exhausted they,
wrung out after hours praying for sailfish but deliver’d
only of sharks, them babies at that.

He was still known as just that dreamy “Piano Kid”
with this visceral-ethereal—even, you might say, godly—way
with the Beckwith Empire his mother had installed for him
in the parlor of their boarding house,
a haven for odd-balls of every sort,
Pelican Bill the Fisher-a-men,
Mister Magic the Stupendous,
Rose the Rive Gauche Chanteuse,
and Gustavo the Engineer (father of the folding flypaper tent),
just to name the most notorious,
the ones with felony criminal records,
various scars, and obscene amputations—sinners
all—always in the kitchen fixing mustard and boloney sandwiches

while he was forever fingering his beloved A Minor Fugue, the
Chopin, as it continued to this very, very day.


Assumption Day, 1984, New Orleans, Louisiana

IMG_2054Photograph by Diana Young.

The Irish Channel. Coliseum Park. And Louie waits
for the sun to cross behind the oaks. Even thin
shade should grant some relief. He hates stake outs.
Watching, waiting, smoking, pissing in beer bottles,
farting into the car seat cushion so rank with the year.
All this is made worse when the sun hammers
the defenseless old Comet. There, take that!
You’ll not get out of orbit, not by a long shot.
Everything dies away. Wicked and nasty,
that cosmic justice. Cosmic and indifferent.

So to pass the time, Louie eyes those kids
out in the sun roiling free as birds.

He works mind puzzles, the rules and intended
outcomes of which he has long forgotten.
How many minutes would it take five men
to disassemble the Comet and carry the parts away?
What if they didn’t tear it apart but sank it. In the Lake.
Pontchartrain. How many fishermen would it take
to haul the Comet out of the Lake ?
When the deputies pry open the trunk,
what would the condition of the body be—not
the Comet’s but his own?
He would take look for himself,
but when he looks, he sees he is blind.
How many crabs for how long
to relieve him of his eyeballs?
Might as well take up a collection and ask
how many angels could fuck on
the tip of a cue stick.

Whang. Whang!
Those kids! Might as well ask those kids
out in the killing sun what the hell they have against
that record player they’re pouncing on. Is it music
they despise? Might as well pop another bennie.
Gotta take a piss. Might as well ask why arson
wanders the streets of the old Irish Channel
like a wrathful god. Houses long gone to rot and ruin,
suddenly they burn. To the ground. What a mess.
A sleeping wino always dies. Life, for whatever it is
— or is not — worth, Jeez, Mary, and Joe, that life,
but it goes limpingly on. And on.

Whang. Whang!
Those kids terrorizing that old turntable.
Well, of course that’s it.
The insane joy of destruction.
The insane union with what hurts,
what broils the skin,
what fires the greasy air.
Again, Louie! cries the girl.
Again! again!