New Orleans Sketches II


There’s a lot of bars in New Orleans. You could go to a different bar every day of the year and still not find them all. Some bars have better memories than other, reminding me what it was like to feel empty or drunk or forgetful. Some bars remind you of a woman you’d give anything to forget. I walked to this bar named Cosimo’s because it’s ordinary. It’s not trying to appeal to college kids from Alabama or pretend it got a black eye by Time a hundred years ago. There’s no superficial voodoo store next door, but that doesn’t mean it is not possessed. I won sixty bucks in one of the video poker machines once and you can smoke in the bar which is a rare treat. Smoke circles ladies’ heads like halos and the TVs are always on ESPN or a Jeopardy rerun. They have a kitchen that serves greasy food and a side room with a pool table and couches pulled from someone’s yard sale. The bartenders are always female, but they don’t have big boobs and can drink you under the table.

I wasn’t supposed to be feeling like one of the walking dead, but it had happened again. Wrote a poem for a young woman from Princeton, New Jersey and was surprised when she handed me a hand written note telling me I was handsome and her phone number. I called her and we spent the day together exploring New Orleans and making out. I brought her to Cosimo’s and we had the whole pool room to ourselves, one of those New Orleans nights that feels like it will never end. She was moving to New Orleans in three months so I had reasons to be optimistic, but I was a fool. I was really excited and Erika had a luminosity about her, a condition I later learned was called bipolar.

For the life of me I can’t remember what we talked about. We played pool like amateurs and I whispered things in her ear as she tried to make a shot. We sat on the couch and she rested her head on my shoulder and my poor heart couldn’t take it. I wanted her in spite of myself. We shared a cigarette, two lonely souls killing time waiting for the sunrise.

(Reblogged from irrationalgraceistaken)


"Our team is called the Young Boys. We grew up in this neighborhood, so we wanted to give the local kids something to do after school. We bought them balls and shoes with our own money, and for game days, we go around and beg local churches for a place to play. We want to keep them very busy so they don’t have time for bad things. We don’t want to see anyone on our team wandering the streets. We practice every other day. The girls have their practice on our days off."

(Juba, South Sudan)

(Reblogged from humansofnewyork)
(Reblogged from sonofbaldwin)


"This group of men used their collective power of colloquial language to create poetry that emphasized intuition and the pastoral. Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats banded together to form the Romantics: the Avengers of classic literature."  

William Blake
Super Power: Prophetic Prose
Motto: “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” 

William Wordsworth
Super Power: Self-Reflection
Motto: “The mind of man is a thousand times more beautiful than the earth on which he dwells.” 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Super Power: Suspension of Disbelief
Motto: “Good and bad men are each less so than they seem.” 

Lord Byron
Super Power: Aristocracy
Motto: “The great object of life is sensation – to feel that we exist, even though in pain.” 

Percy Shelley
Super Power: Radicalism
Motto: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” 

John Keats
Super Power: Sensuality
Motto: “I want a brighter word than bright.”

Credit to Maria Vincente for her brilliance 

(Reblogged from countessmaddalo)

Anonymous said: I'm curious, do you have a schedule for when and where in Jackson Square you make your appearances?

Only on the weekends, during the day in Jackson Square, and at night on Frenchmen Street. Hope that helps.



Seduction by poetry can be a dangerous thing, I’ve learned. About a year ago, two ladies from Chicago graced my poetry stand on Frenchmen Street. One was blonde and couldn’t hold her liquor which left her loud and obnoxious. The brunette was Italian with deep black hair, a performance artist, and hypnotic eyes. She was accident prone, but I forget how or why. I flirted as much as I could, but they left. The next day I randomly met them on a street in the French Quarter and suggested they stop by to see me again that night. They did. “Don’t you have another job?” her friend asked as I shook my head, more interested in the brunette. We exchanged phone numbers and texted as her friend dragged her to Bourbon Street. I joined them later on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. Ignoring the revelry, I was drawn to her and her alone. I had at last found myself a fantasy, the mellow angsty hipster girl with enough sexual energy to melt all the ice in Antarctica. Her name was Elena. We kissed each other with dopey enthusiasm, the soft splinters of ecstasy rushing through our veins. We talked with wild abandon, life lessons, pop culture, relationships. Our part of the balcony was secluded and my hand found its way under her skirt and flirted with the folds of her skin in a deliberate, moan inducing way. “You must be very popular,” she said. “You do this to all the girls you meet?”

"Oh I’m popular," I smiled. "The last Renaissance man."

She licked her lips and urged me to go deeper. When we came up for air, we talked about sex. She insisted her roommate would not allow us free reign of their hotel room and all the parks I knew were locked up with fences. I had no trouble coming up with a romantic alternative.

(Reblogged from irrationalgraceistaken)

Casual Baby

I’ve never doubted that I was a good writer. I sometimes doubt whether my words will grace the New York Times bestseller list. I wrote a 200 page novel inspired by New Orleans called Casual Baby, a surreal romp through the psyche of a dead, not quite dead street poet. I submitted it and after a hundred rejections, you tend to lose energy. I met a friendly literary agent who gave me advice about my query letter. Later I noticed he was going to be in New Orleans for a writer’s conference so I signed up. It was December and wet. Traffic on I-10 was awful and I misread the time of the lecture. I bolted across the French Quarter to find out the lecture was almost over. The next one was scheduled for the morning. Frustrated and wet, I meandered back to my car and had a restless night’s sleep. The next day I arrived early, grabbed a coffee and danish from the breakfast table and waited for my chance to introduce myself. It all happened very fast. The agent was talking to one of the speakers, a published writer, when I walked over.

"Mr. Kleinman?" I asked, trying to be polite under a fire of nerves, each one ready to claw out of my stomach and strangle me.

"Oh God, only Jeff, please," he insisted.

I told him my name and reminded him of our email correspondence. His eyes lit up and he smiled.

"Right, the street poet, this is the guy I was telling you about," he pointed to his friend. "Writes poetry for cash."

"I can’t believe it myself most days," I said. "I never know what I’m going to write about and in this city it’s always interesting."

Months later I emailed him again and he told me to send him my novel. The anticipation buzzing through my mind was more than I could handle. I wanted him to be impressed, but in my zeal I altered the beginning of the novel. He rejected it, claimed I was doing more telling than showing. My closest contact to the literary world was withering in front of my screen like a tree with no water. I was dying of thirst in the wilderness. The poet who thought he could write novels. A large blue pool of doubt opened up at my feet and I dove in.

Jackson Square

Street poetry can be exhausting. There are times when I’ve written non stop for two hours without taking a breath. My typewriter becomes a magnet to those enchanted, romantic travelers and my mind becomes a wrinkled mush of disembodied memories and metaphors colliding like tectonic plates under the earth. Other times I can sit for two hours doing absolutely nothing, read James Baldwin or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or chat up a nearby palm reader. In Jackson Square, there is a loose unspoken federation of artists. We all have a purpose. We all need each other to make this New Orleans experience come to life. The artists, musicians, palm readers, magicians, even the soda vendors. The homeless are there, too, sunburned and cranky, living life like stray cats, feeding on the scraps left by others. Some get creative and become errand runners for the palm readers, help artists load and unload their work, but others wander aimlessly, trapped in a mind vortex where memories and hope are pieces of broken glass, too sharp to touch. In Jackson Square everyone is hungry. Once I saw a scrappy, anorexic young woman standing with her baby in front of the cathedral with a sign that said PLEASE HELP, GOD SILENT. I questioned her method of obtaining charity. It was a Sunday after Mass and most people were ignoring her, but a tiny elderly woman with sparkling grey hair approached her. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but her mannerism seemed compassionate and not judgmental. I imagined the elderly woman told her the baby was beautiful, slipped her a twenty, and told her where to find a free clinic. We could all use a little more grace.


The Old Butcher’s Bookshop, Paris


(Reblogged from pavorst)