In 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... 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.