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Thursday, March 29, 2007

All This Murmuring

Image from "New Orleans Vodoun Tarot"
Poetry Thursday

New Orleans wraps itself in the mystery of Vodoun. The religion is misunderstood as the Hollywood caricature of evil and the dreaded zombie. In reality, it's a complex and often beautiful belief system - but admittedly not for the weak of heart. The poem is written from the point of view of someone only familiar with Voudoun, not part of its inner circle. The piece describes the dance of the Mambos, but I think Baron Samedi needs a bit of an introduction. He's one of Vodoun's Guedes that is said to guard the crossroads where the spirit of the dead can cross in and out of this world and act as intercessor between the living and the dead. He also presides over love and resurrection. Baron Samedi wears a top hat, black coat tails, and sunglasses. He loves ambrosia cigars and has a propensity for rum.

All This Murmuring

I run into myself
crawling out of a manhole
on a street in New Orleans.
I tell myself,
"The old man's dead,"
but really - I think
he conjured a convenient senility
to disguise his secrets.
I ask, "Do I know where the children are?"
And, "Did I bake the sweet potato pie for after the funeral?"
And, "By the way, what was I doing down there anyway?"

For ten days I've hung this Gris-Gris
bag around my neck -
still I don't leave myself in peace.
I won't answer myself-
just remark that the stench
top side isn't much different,
then I remember the old man's
handkerchief still covers my face.

I complain
to stone angels -
"Don't I ever answer my questions?"
And, "Don't I have any respect for the dead?"
And, "Didn't I know Momma's bad nerves
were on account of my moods?"

I leave myself
to track the scent of Ambrosia,
go where the Mambos swirl
in their white dresses
inside a circle of Fire Lilies -
scattering cornmeal
so the Guedes will come to dance.

I sway on the brim of the wheel,
whisper in trickles of rum
while I hope for the tip of a hat-
even though we're strangers,
Baron Samedi might dance
with me - stop all this murmuring.









15 comments:

bookbinds said...

The imagery in this poem was very powerful, I particularly liked this line,

"I leave myself
to track the scent of Ambrosia,
go where the Mambos swirl
in their white dresses
inside a circle of Fire Lilies -
scattering cornmeal
so the Guedes will come to dance."

etain_lavena said...

this is soo so so nice...:)

Tammy said...

I agree with bookbinds :) I could see it happening. Thank for sharing Vodoun. Wonderful!

pepektheassassin said...

Oh, sooo good! The air around this reminds me of, smells like, feels like, Toni Morrison's BELOVED--a marvelous book, if you have not read it.

Rethabile said...

Wow. Very good. makes me wanna want to learn more about your characters.

Lydia said...

Wow. I read your introduction and I thought it was the poem-the language flowed so beautiful and explained the idea so beautifully. Then I read the actual poem. Twice. So far. It's wondeful. The beginning imagine is so arresting-climbing out of a man hole and the sense of teh personal wrapped up with the iconography of this strange belief system-dancing spirits in top hats. Beautiful. I read it aloud to get the full effect-have you thought of recording your stuff?

gautami tripathy said...

Evokes very strong images. I felt part of it being inside the poem and hence the painting.

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I don't know anything about Vodoun, but I really enjoyed your poem. It reads like a play. :)

Rose

xo

chiefbiscuit said...

You've really nailed it. Great stuff. I love the deft use of powerful images & language to create a strong poem that had me fascinated right from start to finish.

Dave said...

Very well done. A friend of mine was a Haitian Vodoun initiate for a while (in New Jersey), and was ridden by Guede. This rings true with what he's told me of his experience.

Crafty Green Poet said...

very vivid, very atmospheric

Sam said...

Very mysterious and absolutely full of the spirit I feel when I'm in New Orleans - the dangerous edge, the beauty of things all broken down and steeped in magic. I love the part

I sway on the brim of the wheel,
whisper in trickles of rum

I'd love to read more about all of this!

Cynthia said...

This was simply wonderful. Love the imagery and the rhythm.

paris parfait said...

I love the imagery in this poem - so evocative of New Orleans, one of the most amazing and culturally-diverse cities in the world. Fantastic work!

Marilyn said...

Fabulous! "still I don't leave myself in peace" ... love the voice here.