gary brower | the crescent and the full moon


(Une chante contre la destruction de Nouvelle Orleans et pour sa renaissance, 2005)

“…they tryin’ to wash us away.”– Randy Newman, LOUISIANA 1927.

The sun has set on the House of the Rising Sun.
The Crescent City, like a smile on the mouth of the Mississippi,
has been turned upside down, staring into the cloud-stricken face
of the Man in the Moon, full moon face of Death
on the Eve of Destruction by the Big Circle K in the sky
with its Mardi Gras deathmasks of water, wind and lightning,
earthen levees attacked by lethal raindrops, lingering memories of salvation
by Jackson & Lafitte blown away by the death breath,
the magical veil of protection over the Crescent City
from spells of Voodoo Queen Marie Leveau torn away,
the defensive, rhythmic sound wall of Clifton
and C.J. Chenier’s accordeons, the Nawlins’ boogie
bounce of Marcia Ball unable to scare Death away,
the whirling skeletal dervish dressed in a Posadas
calavera mask and Day of the Dead costume,
using bones to play the Zydeco washboard,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
Death dancing over the bayou, Plaquemines and Evangeline,
parishes perishng below the water line,
the Delta triangle hand of riverine fingers
playing a concertina of raindrop deluge
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm,
by the light of the silvery moon, downpour of silverine rain,
from the towering, overpowering figure of the swirling death spiral
rising like a giant helix, star-eyed in the Center of the storm,
dansant a la musique des etoiles
circular crescendo of the cyclonic two-step
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina raindrop rhythm,
as the ‘Cane comes in like a corkscrew over the Crescent City,
it’s not so easy in the Big Easy storm surge,
the Crescent City waxing then, waning now,
unprotected by the Moon Goddess Selena,
dansant a la musique de la peur,
unprotected by the Moon Goddess Luna,
dansant a la musique du vent,
unprotected by the Moon Goddess Diana,
dansant a la musique de l’inondation,
unprotected by the Moon Goddess Artemis,
dansant a la musique de la morte,
unprotected by the skin of its levees uncaring politicos let fail,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
Si nous laissons que les bon temps roulet
tous les jours,
with the Nevilles and Meters and Wild Tchoupitoulas
singing “Hey Pocky Way”,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm,
C’est aussi vrai que les mal temps roulet
de temps en temps,
with funereal jazz bands walking their slow dirges
for the city’s decline, the people’s demise,
in every part of the fertile Crescent City,
from Congo Square to Jackson Square,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
ou Monsier et Madame Morte
avec son masques du bal
sont les seules touristes
sitting at the Cafe du Monde in the Vieux Carre
drinking a chicory coffee that tastes like death warmed over,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
Looking at the Crescent City from above
through the telescopic whirl of the big tornadic eye,
the Mayan god Hurakan gazing down on the Crescent City
seeing water spill over the levees
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
pouring into the poor lower wards,
Dr. John’s wrong time, wrong place,
wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong,
set to the sound of the Dirty Dozen
& Preservation Hall Jazz Bands playing in the brain,
Sidney Bechet and King Oliver in the background,
playing in the memory like musicians on the sinking Titanic,
Allen Toussaint singing along with Heraclitus:
“You can’t step into the same river twice,”
with a ricky-ticky-Tipitina rhythm;
hearing, from the Ninth Ward, a reverie
wail of Louie Armstrong’s horn,
Professor Longhair tickling the ivories,
Fats Domino’s voice echoing
“Ain’t that a shame, my tears fell like rain,”
over the almost-cadaver of the Crescent City,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
Remembering the lines of Verlaine:
Il pleut dans la ville, comme il pleut dans mon coeur,
while Rimbaud’s bateau ivre comes down the Mississippi,
to the sound of Pete Fountain’s clarinet, Al Hurt’s cornet,
and the bluesy soul music of Irma Thomas
at the Dew Drop Inn, or the Marsalis jazztrain,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
While Washington Right-wing pols,
led by the usurper King Klown of the political circus
organized by a Confederacy of Dunces who sit
in their overstuffed chairs remote in mind,
with a remote in hand that can’t click on Reality,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm,
watching a Mardi Gras parade of Catastrophe
where the floats are people on rafts, cadavers in flooded streets,
the floating parade of the poor and black
wading waist-deep in the poisonous gumbo
neck-deep in the Big Muddy, just like the disaster of ’27,
when the rich, patrician, pseudo-aristo-pluto-oligarchicrats
watched the Crescent City drown just as Nero watched Rome burn,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
so now you know what it means to miss the real New Orleans,
Boozou Chavis & Buckwheat Zydeco,
rockin’ to the rollin’ of the ricky-ticky
Tipitina washboard rhythm,
what it means to miss those stilt-leg cafes
on Lake Pontchartrain, platters of crawdads
served on newspapers with pitchers of beer,
so now you can say “Mais ou sont les langoustines d’antan?”,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
the Crescent city is our Venice with beigniers & croissants,
necropolis on the nether side of the Other Side
la ville dans le rive gauche du Mississippi,
metropolis on the American jugular vein,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm;
Miss Katrina Storm, who revealed more than her victims
wanted to see at her strip joint called The FEMA CLUB,
and now you see the lies invented to justify abandon,
just like 1927, to justify how the rich were saved
because their Heaven is here and now,
while the Heaven for the poor
comes later, after they die,
in the Crescent City, all along the Mississippi,
throughout the nation, the world over,
with a ricky-ticky Tipitina rhythm.

Louisiana 1927

What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through cleard down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, “Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has
To this poor crackers land.”

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