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tearing the rag off the bush again
Paul Pines at Mardi Gras 2010 PDF E-mail
HELLO FROM NOLA

…after shtooping the soul sags.

Andrei Codrescu
1
I dress up for Mardi Gras
in a costume provided
by my hostess

described
on the package
as
           Jesus, "one size
           fits all."
 
containing
a long white gown
a red sash
a wild wig of auburn curls
down to my shoulders
and a beard
I can’t secure
to my ears which
are too small
must finally pin to
my “soft” crown
of thorns

When I appear
my hostess
says
            "You look more
             like a rabbi."

I point out that many
called him this
which is what he
probably was.

Another in our group
observes:

                "He looks more
                like Moses."

On our way through
the French Quarter
to a party
in Jackson Square
at La Petit Theatre
(oldest community
theater in the U.S.)
celebrants ask
for my blessing
attempt to kiss
the hem of my
skirt.
I confess relief
when a beefy guy
in a New Orleans Saints
football jersey jumps
in front of me
screaming:

            "Hail, Bacchus!"
obviously mistaking
my crown of thorns
for grape leaves.


2

              FAT TUESDAY

We start out early
to march with the insurgent
order of St. Cecilia
patron saint of musicians
who sang to God
              as she was crucified
              and beheaded
              three times

recently split
from the trendy
order of St. Ann
mother of the Virgin
              and patron
              of miners

gather in the Marigney
meet the band
and revelers who
want to know
if I am
                 Moses or
                  Jesus?

I tell them
that my costume
designed in Brooklyn
by a rabbi includes
                   the robe
                   and sash of
                   the Galilean

but the wild hair and beard
of one whose been
to the mountain

but comes
today without tablets
or parables
                     simply to dance
                     in the second line
behind
the trombone
Sor Juana
wearing her escudo
on my left
                    a fox
                    in a white tux
                    on my right

we stop for drinks
at Feelings
a bar on Franklin
where a Pig with Wings
corners me
to ask,
             “Who dat?”

I reply
that I’m her Savior
recently “off the rack”
then move on to the tune
of “Little Liza Jane”

until I cross Elysian Fields
and come face
to face with another
dancing Jesus
                         we embrace
                         bless each
                         other

then pause
to use the porto-potties
on Esplanade before
parading through the Quarter
down Royal St. to confront
evangelicals
in Jackson Square
protesting this pagan rite

confusion reigns
as they stare at me in a way
I recognize as
                           Jesus or
                           Moses?
another
band comes up behind us
I can’t decide if
I’m dancing first or second line
to which the fox-in-a-tux
responds,
                    “Both.”
summing up
all there is to say about
dancing between
two bands

we stream
toward Canal St
the Promised Land
for one so robed and bearded
in the spirit of St. Cecilia
singing
               “When the Saints
                  Come Marching In”
until a diva
                  in gold lame
                  sneezes
and I stop
to say, God bless you.
but it comes out
Gesundheit!
 
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