Was that the name of
the chalky rose that graced
my 20-year-old lips
Was it a drag queen or
my girlfriend Rickie who gave me
that stick/mystical tube
Cylinder of cotton candy
and chemical confection
that no doubt helped my pout
Yes, it was Rickie after all who
slipped Georgette Klinger into my purse
and said, “Work it, girl”
© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
When Imaginary Garden With Real Toads mentioned the color pink, this little memory emerged from the silver tube of my synapses! I will always be grateful that Rickie Lee Jones is my friend… we are almost the same age, but she was always the big sister, more worldly, a bit wiser. And yes, she still has the BEST makeup, hee hee.
She has her first album of all originals coming out in June, so stay tuned. I will write to one of those pieces.
Swing, Sway, Pay the musicians!
“We flew down here to New OrLEENZ
Oh, that Berbin Street’s a racy scene
White people, black people
Al Hirt’s closed but I got
a real hurricane glass at Pete Fountain’s
And the music! There was a white singer
who did that gravelly voice on
‘What a Wonderful World,’
so authentic, he sounded just like
…‘cept she wouldn’t know real jazz
if it sashayed up
slithered along her inseam
and chomped down on her skinny butt
Buuuut… we love them, the tourists
in their Mardi Gras beads
They stay on Bourbon so’s not to
imperil themselves, and
sure as God’s name is on a dollar bill,
the Lord rains that green on our
Katrina-ravaged, race/grace savaged,
road-buckled, pothole-pimpled hometown
Tourists nurture the city, rain the green
on the parched heads of bartenders and servers,
taxi drivers, musicians – from our bevy of
audacious, bodacious singers to brass ensembles and
buskers to second-line bands – plus mule carriage men and
bicycle carters, all manner of trade here in N’Orleans
Hell, they take that bread and spread it all over town
Tourists don’t know the real goins-on
‘less they got good friends hostin, boastin on
their chicory-roasted tasty toasty town
The dark side streets pulsing late-night R&B,
roots jazz, Kid Ory’s ghost, all those
greasy good sounds after the Bourbon Street gigs
are done, the paddleboat is docked, long after people
who clap on the one and the three (bless ‘em) have retired to
their hotels…after the Top Five Louis Tunes go to bed
That’s when the hunger is sated, when gates open to
a positive, righteous flood no Army Corps of Engineers
could ever fuck up, this outpouring of soul
dredged in Creole hot sauce nasty goodness
It’s what they’ve been dyin to say, dyin to play all day
all the way down from The Land of the Green, source of
the rent and new shoes and toys for Christmas
Payin gigs ain’t even foreplay
The cab ride down steams every hungry body up
Jump out the door, slide into sensual surreal
so-real recesses of excessive compression
to achieve the blissful explosion
swaying sweaty bodies
building building to
The excruciating mindbending orgasm of
hot humid homegrown harmony
And to that I say, Laissez les bons temps rouler
“Let the good times roll!”
© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Yes, New Orleans was a treat. I will be recounting these stories for the next few posts. Thanks to Rickie Lee for inviting me down… to Lex for telling me I had to go… to Rose and Suzanne for their sweetness… to Alfred for being Alfred and trading the piano bench with me… to Amanda for hosting my Second Phase… to Brother Robert, and you best call him, I’ll give you his number later, if you need a cab… and to the wonderful assembly of artists, musicians, and just plain folk who made up our Second Line parade in celebration of Rickie’s birthday.
We will have words about Brother Robert, a smidge of the gorgeous art of Suzanne La Fleur, musings on my new friends and old ones as well. And yes, there will be clips once I get my Smart Phone hooked up to my hard drive. I am in love with NOLA, but my somke-sensitive lungs are glad to be back in Wisconsin!!
For ABC Wednesday, the letter was S. Sweet sweaty salty swimmin in satisfaction. Yeah. Peace, Amy
Can be defeated by eating “to your heart’s desire,”
yet your heart desires it not,
only your want to fill
that empty spot.
A child hangs his Valentine on the fridge,
only to find the dog
thought it interesting;
she nuzzled it down, chewed it to bits.
He runs crying to Mom.
She now grants access carefully. Her heart
has been broken before,
but it healed, gained resilience.
The scars may show,
but she will live
to love again.
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads: We were asked to post the song that helps us through our heartbreaks and write a poem about it. This prompt caught me by the tear ducts.
The YouTube track is, of course, Rickie Lee Jones (not “Ricky,” spelled wrong on the title page). Tom Waits wrote this song for her, and she sang it every night as the encore during her first national tour. I went to this song for solace time and again, in the years before Lex. She is a treasure trove of writing talent on her own, but here is where an angel’s voice meets the song the actual writer could never sing to great effect.