Flags for Everette Maddox

20160802-jaxbeersignIn 1979, Everette Maddox, the patron saint of New Orleans Poetry, began assembling friends and other poets for drinking and poetry every Sunday afternoon on the tree shaded patio behind the Maple Leaf Bar.  Thirty seven years later the event is still going strong. Everette died unnecessarily young but is still remembered for his hard drinking, hard partying, and soulful words.   One hears his name constantly among New Orleans poets, and I, like many others, have penned work inspired by his words and spirit.

Flags for Everette Maddox

returning home to New Orleans
I hightailed it 
from the airport 
to the Maple Leaf Bar
to sip beer and listen
to poems read
in the mild late afternoon
the Sunday after Mardi Gras
there’s perfection 
on the Leaf's back patio
plastic cups of Abita Springs beer
at a wobbly wrought iron tables 
a mockingbird in the fig tree
singing of the football Saints
and of Saints Marching In
and why we live here

words flowing 
tumbling and lulling
my head tilts back
eyes float skyward
to Sweet Gum and Red Oak, Myrtle and Dogwood
their limbs lacing each other below the clouds
and there
amid entwined branch-work
rippling in the breeze like so many flags...

bras hanging in the trees
bras of every shape and size of New Orleans woman
proof of the Mardi Gras party
I missed last week.
red silk,  blue lace,  spring green, 
black-transparent till barely even gray
or plain white cotton
sailing in the air
dancing, twisting
free at last
to work it on out.

as Nancy reads from Everette Maddox’s
last and posthumous collection
poems of loving and living
my chair rocks unsteadily
on the patio’s rough bricks
I crane my head and stare
enchanted by brassieres
and Everette’s words. 
less than a drunken stumble away
in the flowerbed's cool earth
lies Everett’s grave marker
(though not his grave).

Everette would have liked the flags,
waving for unknown breasts
flying high above his words
begging poetic license
one of them too expansive for any
but the largest Big Easy Amazon
but how could even she be tall enough
to hang the strap over
that ten foot high branch? 

the party I missed
could never match
the one in my head
and the sweaty swirl
of fabric and lace flags 
dancing the funky monkey
behind my eyes.
but Everett was there. 
I’m sure he was.

About Steve Beisner

Webmaster for the Luna Review. South Louisiana native Steve Beisner is a writer, musician, and computer scientist. His published work includes short stories and poems. Steve is an editor at Ink Byte Press and the Luna Review. Steve lives in New Orleans, LA, and in Santa Barbara, CA.
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