In the heart of New Orleans is the French Quarter
and at its center is Jackson Square.
There on the steps of the Basilica,
and not just for the shuck of us rubes
goes on, unabated, the spirited commerce of lost souls:
tarot dealers and cursers in voodoo
faith healers and gazers into crystal,
they all vie for the right to sell you
the sweetest of illusions, control.
God on the one hand
and the devil on the other—
in New Orleans you’d be crazy
not to deal the one without the other.
Many years ago, my wife was invited to speak at a conference in New Orleans and we turned the trip into a short vacation to explore the city’s storied French Quarter. Built in the middle of a swamp, by the 1600s and through to the 1800s, New Orleans had one of the highest death rates in the world. Combined with the large number of slaves that were brought in from the West Indies and Africa, this gave birth to the Death Cult/black arts/voodoo worship/deep Catholicism aura that still haunts the city. Walk around there, you’ll feel it.
To “shuck” someone means to trick them out of their money. Those stolen from are often called “rubes.”
Thank you for reading The magic of old New Orleans. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.
© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.