Rhythm of a City Drowned and other works by Elizabeth Garcia
Elizabeth Garcia is apparently known as one of 'dem people' by the Citizenry. She conducts preventive maintenance & lusts the architecture of New Orleans. All three are just fine and relatively congruent to the current Universe.
The Jivers @ 98 Degrees
A relative of the man who talks to pineapples in brown paper bags & lets his coffee grow cold
was on the street at Balboa & State hitting an orange with a stick.
Occasionally he'd kiss the plate glass windows of the bar & smile at no one in particular.
& I've watched him for 3 days beating on fruit & kissing the glass & wonder if I should change jobs-
but find instead perverse sexuality on a Friday morning
& the choice of whoring gourmet coffee or pitchers of beer
at midnight to tourists drunk on the tallness of the buildings.
Decisions come slowly & build from the heat
Of the bodies of the people in the city-
& Expressways turn to parking lots in noonday sun
& Subway walls sweat from the weight of the city above.
In our square of the city,
We grook on the brink of gentrification
as the kids on bikes with guns ease the strain on the poverty line.
Mexican girls in our neighborhood are proud in red lipstick
ambling on coltish legs their ponytails high,
as their 17 year old lovers cruise hot starless nights in their bass filled
jacked up Monte Carlos missioning for crazier highs
& a sweeter existence.
The couple with 3 kids on the corner of West Erie
Start their mornings with a little yelling & the ceremonial throwing of assorted knick knacks from the kitchen windowsill.
Their oldest, a girl-
light brown hair cocoa colored skin
thin arms, about 7
spends her afternoons playing on the storefront corner stoop
with the art school retro boy & girl & dog.
Sometimes the boy would beat out tunes on drums & the kid would dance
arms & legs flying & hair shaking like nobody's business.
Dusk in our Square fades in with the flickering of fuzzy orange streetlamps
& the choral shriek of late August cicadas.
The boy & girl & dog go in for a long night of love & art as leather skinned old men make their final rounds hawking watermelon slices & corn.
The bells of Holy Innocents ring out random time & the couple with 3 kids on the corner fall into the evenings streetlife serenade with a round of shouting & beating & then sit on the stoop & call truce as the cops in copters make their nightly sweep of the square.
Back on Balboa & State meanwhile, Fruit Man's split & the beerfreak tourists are a little louder, a little uglier pushing fast decisions of flight.
So I spend 72 hours high on the fire escape tracing solar & lunar paths above widescreen cityview.
Flight patterns over Midway & the fine lines of past & present meld into my head with heat in the flat on the 4th floor & I do the coffee & cocktails for the corporates latenight earlymorning shifts again when skies are crazy lavender & traffic really moves.
in the right front pocket
of Dead Kid's blue jeans
in the shape of a .380
in the cracked & shrill voice
of his Aunt pleading for a word
from someone in the crowd
that stood in coiled groupings breaking silence
only to light a cigarette or pull the tab on a beer can
in cement colored sky & scent of rain
while the heat flucuated & shimmered in & out of screens
of birds doing their early evening dance over City Park
in perpetual hypocrisy of this city
of perceived retaliatory fear
when the rest of the world is dying
in the untold numbers of eternally broken hearts
Continents away where self-genocide is a daily ritual
& the World turns its head at the last second
New Orleans you are not the only one
America you are not the only one
who cries itself to sleep nightly
Rhythm of a City Drowned #1 & our hearts beat to the rhythm of chopper blades cutting sky
beaten down to slow pace of sorrow yet unknown
continuous as the river & lake
and we live now in the before and the after
and wonder what future is to be defined
if ever again at all
the cityscape painted ages past in archaic joyous hope
prior to the flood of anger set into generational layers of self-imposed
reaching out, above ground in marbleized ensconcing of our dead
the solitude of fear rolled in and across the cityview
slowly catching fire over water unfit to save or drink
the unknown Woman lay at the edge of the tiny park on Magazine
run down by someone in a hurry to escape the water's fire or their own regrets
of not having done right by the architectural rhythm of this city of themselves
I thought I saw Her take a breath as I looked for something that would tell me Her name as she lay on the concrete, Her body twisted and refracted in a pair of pink or red glasses, captured in the lenses by the high sun
Her photo taken for later identification, if at all
& 2 days later, the neighbors left, lay down bricks and dirt around Her, makeshift, no marble under the cover of dark and quiet
broken up occasionally by bullets or tears
I have no clear memory of whispered prayers for Her
1 week after dry ground sprang up in struggle, the Old Man wound silk flowers on the wrought iron fencing around the church on North Rampart
He had lived and died the gamut of anger lain deep into bones and the sinew of generations past in the cityscape, now laid bare for the rest to touch as novelty
He said, as He eyed me with knowing sadness
'My gardens are bare for now these will last a bit longer'
Rhythm of a City Drowned #2
<New Orleans Has No Gravitational Drainage>
& it was the water
that broke the bricks & the concrete & the wood
it was it was
viscous, violent, deep
of the anger underlying, underscoring us
in the City of the Soulghosts
& on the night before
the breeze blew in subtle & soft
a kiss blown from lover to lover
& the City of the Soulghosts closed down & in & around each other
sustained by the certainty that the breeze would pass
& clear our cityscape cityview held hostage & dreary for so long
by those Pressurizers disguised as leaders, ministers, killers, us
& it was on the earlymorning afterward on Canal Street
that people of the city gathered in groups of color-still-
at a moment like this
& quietly gazed at the buildings & each other
still standing, rain drenched, windows blown & trees were down
& each one of us was slightly bent not yet broken still standing
until closer curbside streetside contact gave us wider view
& fear's perfume & what just happened & what will happen next
& it was on day 3 or night 4 that a woman told me on Convention
she had a thought, a dream, a vision
trapped in an architectural window
& that baby saw no color
only dark night in a lonely window left by a mother
who gave up Humanity in fear
& the women had gathered up & around in semi arcing sorrowed circles tightened by hands & legs
at the end of that second night the start of the third day
they prayed & sang in whispers as those others preyed on the ones with no voice left draining color-life to shade of grey
(what just happened what will happen next)
the women were older & knew what the others would not face
through fear of the feral hot sun & humans & moonless nights that slammed slowly down upon our heads & us
& one woman stood out & stood up told it like it was that without, without, they could not survive & please stand closer with your big guns though we know you are just as scared
& scarred as we are
& miss, miss po-lice, we took in the Asian family
cuz those down by Tchoupitoulas Street wanted them dead
& after so much demarcation
done by those too blind
for so many decades too long-New Orleans Where-
those too greedy
& deafened by their own shouts of
"I am owed, I am owed"
it was the water that rolled in & across & laid it down
that we are not owed by anyone other than ourselves
& to those who do not stand
it was the Pressurizers before the breeze
it was the water directly after
that broke the bones & tore the skin & fell from the eyes of the Soulghosts
who have watched & waited for us to rise from wakeful sleep of apathy
& to stand for one we should stand for all
Where are you?
What have we done with you, to you?
& the urbancity suburbancity was divided
isolated segregated & subdivided once again
because the water saw no color but its own
& we have swung & we have swayed with the rhythms of the
rivers & the lakes on these crescentmoon shaped shores
we must stand & swing & sway with the rhythms of ourselves
& it was the water that refracted & reflected upon itself
& broke the bricks & the concrete & the wood
it was the water it was the water it was us