here where the houses are day old cakes,
smudged and still pretty.
We sweat without moving
even our mouths.
takes us to Mississippi
where we wade into the Gulf
for a mile on our knees
because the water won’t
swallow us up.
The beer in my hand is salted from the waves
and tastes good.
I’ve never been to New Orleans
but Esme knows what I’ll love:
the intersection of streets
named Piety and Desire,
the chapel of the amputees
at St. Roch with plaster casts of hands
and dolls as offerings. It hurts, the eyes.
My friends, a couple, fight on the steps of a mausoleum
that requires Perpetual Care –
and I think how extravagant to be gone
and believe you’d still mind.
The city of the dead is too much for the boyfriend
so we move to a tavern with two dollar beers,
where dying is less obvious
but the stone wall is the same.
Then drunk and hungry
we’re so guilty it’s girlish
the way we order beignets,
hot and snowed in sugar.
Ahead in line, the bachelorette party in tutus
wear pink penises for earrings.
A pearly drop to finish it.
A sorority girl with a kind voice congratulates the bride
(the white tutu) and then pays for all of the beignets.
Good lord y’all have jizz in your ears – of course I’ll buy you some!
They hadn’t realized the pearl wasn’t a pearl.
The first women who were brought to New Orleans
were prisoners, prostitutes and nuns –
says the tour guide I’m unsure I believe.
When the women arrived by ship
their gums were so receded from hunger
the men saw a boatload of vampires.
I’m never in love anymore
so I take my own lip by my teeth.
LABOR DAY BARBECUE, NEW JERSEY
When a man with bad stringy hair
but good tattoos (of Sailor Jerry)
threw a beer in my face
and then the 40 oz. bottle in my face
my first thought was there’s been a mistake.
I’m too old for this. I’m teaching on Tuesday.
Like age matters, like, let’s call him Jerry,
isn’t thirty years old.
Jerry told my friend he was going to fuck her
up the ass,
and kept saying it and kept saying it.
So my shrill girl voice
woke every animal in the yard.
I hope bad things happen to Jerry, I say darkly.
Meaning cosmic retribution:
DUIs, diabetes, and death.
Don’t say that, my friends cluck.
But I say it, I mean it.
I have an amendment for Hammurabi’s Code.
Every man who says suck my dick
in anger, should lose the dick.
There’s beer on my moss-green sweater
black bile on my tongue
and rosemary all over the ground.
Rosemary for remembrance.
Jerry smashed the potted plant before leaving
and telling me I’m a fucking bitch,
which I agreed with and said look
how much I fuck-ing care, with my palms up.
I don’t know why the palms up,
except maybe to show that I wasn’t afraid,
I wasn’t afraid for my face.
The only thing I’m sorry for is waking up the birds.
Laura Cresté holds an MFA from New York University, and a BA from Bennington College. She is the Web & Public Relations editor of Washington Square Review and reviews books for Full Stop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Phantom, The Boiler Journal, Bodega Magazine, and Tinderbox.