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New Orleans -- Food. Art. Culture.

Illustration for article titled New Orleans -- Food. Art. Culture.

Mike Molina, one of my buddies from Xavier, composed this poem to open up my "Mardi Gras (Phat Tuesday)" menu in Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. Hurricane Katrina devastated the city less than six months later.

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Down in New Orleans

Saffron skies chase down the sun

Another sultry day is done

Heat seasoned skin keeps you hotter than the Parish

church kitchen

at night in New Orleans

where sound is sautéed

on romping trombones and throbbing base

where drumsticks drizzle

symbols sizzle

and rattling snares quake

It is hot in every season

and hot for no reason

down in New Orleans

She sits in the hip

of the Mississippi River's switch

her curve births life

she dances through savage bayous

where St. Malo stole freedom and sung indigo blues

where Yoruba spirits still cast a gris gris

where swamp bug symphonies strike syncopated beats

where rigid time melts into jazz

where melodies get peppered with pizzazz

down in New Orleans

Catacombs rise

and lift crosses to the sky

as we sink in sin drenched soil

below sea level

six feet above the devil

where the gumbo is slow to boil

roux runs thick

rich as mixed blood

birthing blessed harvests of ethnic floods

We are patois people

in kinship so close

that only last names sing those secrets untold

We indigenous Afro-Creole-Eurasian flavors

curry favor in Congo Square

down in New Orleans

We celebrate

where poor boys can eat, drink and pray

in the jambalaya jumble before Fat Tuesday

when the marching bands rumble

and the flambeaux sway

and ancient oaks lean and toast to hurricanes past

where cast iron curls

and rain stains glass

At a Super Sunday Second Line

you can buckjump out of your mind

party till the sun shines

pass a real good time

down in New Orleans

Welcome yourself up out of yourself

and into the taste of my town

Lose yourself until your soul is found

Down in New Orleans where my blues was born

Michael Otieno Molina

Michael Otieno Molina is a New Orleans native performance poet, mixed-media producer, and author of the verse novel, The Second Line.

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