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Happy Birthday ‘Rette October 9, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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October 9 is Everette Maddox’s birthday. Happy Birthday, ‘Rette. There are no special observances scheduled for today. There is a featured reader at the Maple Leaf, followed by an open mic. I believe I will read a few poems, and pour a dram of well scotch in the man’s memory beneath the plaque in the patio that is his sole memorial.

I’m more in the mood of “The Picture” than the poem below, but the one selected is more fitting for the occasion. Still, the closing stanza of “The Picture” are to my mind a better epitaph than the one on the plaque at the Maple Leaf, which reads “He was a mess.”

Oh if this moment
should indeed prove
to be the corner
I’ve spent thirty-five years
painting myself into

think only this of me

That one more cheap camera
has shattered
against the world’s beauty.

The poem below and all of the 13 Original Poems are available online (including a picture of the cover) here. I have inserted what must be a missing article in brackets.

LINES ON HIS THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY

On a hill high above
the mild October day
I stand, heroic, hands
clasped behind my back,
as the last musket’s
crack fades
and the smoke drifts away
from the place where the famous
battle of my youth was fought.
Who won? Who lost?
Who knows? My speech,
which I seem to have misplaced,
tells. Oh well:
myself and loves and grey
uniform were not among
the casualties, quite; though
a gold button dangles.
Now we’ll bind the wounds,
free the slaves, and set up
(oh shrewdly!) a national shrine
in the decaying mansion
of my body: post cards,
stuffed possums, and (out back)
whiskey to be sold
[to] such emissaries
from the glacial future
as have coin to spend

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