Come With Me, Darlin’, Down To New Orleans

Erik Rittenberry
Jan 15 · 3 min read

Look at you darlin’, you’re worn out,
pushed and pulled this way and that,
numbed by the screen in the maddening
cubicle of a tethered life.

You’re tired of the limp conversations
with your half-baked generation.
Seems they’re bringing you down,
darlin’, so low that you can’t feel
the flow of your own blood
gushing around.

Your days are rushed and
mechanical. The algorithms
of the daily grind have
you all figured out. You’re
losing that fire, darlin’,
that sense of being madly alive.
I can see it in your exotic eyes,
the way you move, the way
you talk, the way you sigh
when the alarm clock cries
in the early AM.

I know a place that’ll help shake you out of it.
It’s a peculiar place for the exiled, for those
who crave a different taste than the stale
monotony of the typical American life.

We’re gonna descend on down to
a place of poets, and villains,
vagabonds, assassins, and gamblers,
drunkards, artists, pirates,
prophets, and midnight amblers.

A place where voodoo queens
meander through Cities of the Dead
and damaged souls lurk within
dreamy dreams with dirty toes
stumbling down steamy streets.

It’s a vile place, darlin’– grimy
and dangerous but alive, and through
the thick fog of its impurity there’s a light,
a gleaming light
that guides our yearning souls
out of the dreadful night.

It’s the Crescent City darlin’,
that muddy mystical metropolis
that washed up on a sharp bend
at the lower end
of the mighty Mississippi
some centuries ago.

A place of broken levees and rising waters,
slow boats and creole ghosts sitting
on front stoops of Bywater shacks
with toothless smiles and shirtless backs.

The sidewalks in this town ooze secrets
of centuries past, and the buildings are filled
with the wisdom of ancient pacts.

It’s here that a breeze like a bum’s
liquored breath hits you with all
its sins and mysteries
as you walk with barefoot gypsies
along the banks of the Mississippi.

It’s here darlin’, that a young whiskey drunk
Faulkner
typed away at his poems down in Pirate’s Alley.
And it’s here where the beer drunk poet
Bukowski
visited and stayed in rat-infested rooms
as he hid from life. It’s a place of
Tennessee Williams
and his Streetcar named Desire. It’s here where
you can hear the trumpet of
Satchmo
seep out of the mud in the early hours
as dew drips from blooming Magnolias.

It’s also in this dirty ole’ town that
Dean Moriarty
bellowed out ‘Oh, smell the people!’…
‘Ah! God! Life!’ ‘Yes!’
as he darted from the car and looked in
every direction for girls.

‘Look at her!’…

“The air was so sweet in New Orleans,”
Kerouac wrote, “it seemed to come in
soft bandannas;
and you could smell the river and
really smell the people,
and mud, and molasses, and every kind
of tropical exhalation with your nose
suddenly removed from the dry ices
of a Northern winter.”

So come with me, darlin’
come with me down
to the land of sugar cane
where we’ll drown out the mundane
as the storm clouds float in
from over Lake Pontchartrain
and we’ll dance in the pouring rain
with our battered boots
as we slide ever so
gloriously
down the drain
of life.

Hand in hand we’ll wander
alongside ancient sepulchers
in the flooded graveyards
while the ravens
flutter in the gray gloom.

And when the sun finally peaks
out from the muck,
we’ll be wondrously drunk
on Decatur Street as whiffs
of jasmine drift thru the debauchery.

Can’t you hear Tom Waits singin’ to us,
darlin’,
listen, listen… you can hear the piano…
now…there it is — his smoke scarred voice
cries out:

“Well, I wish I was in New Orleans,
I can see it in my dreams,
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy,
a bottle and my friends and me.”

C’mon darlin’,
we only have one life to live
and we have to live it wild;
get scarred up and wounded
by those fleeting miles
so we can greet the grave with style.
So pack a bag, lemme see that smile,
there you go, it’s time to
dim that halo, sweet child,
and defile
them pretty
little
wings.

C’mon darlin’,
the end is near.
It always is.

Erik Rittenberry

Written by

Everything has been figured out, except how to live.

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