Poetry by Joe Ferguson

May 13th, 2010

New Orleans

(Previously Published: Lactuca #3 July, 1986; temm, August, 1990)


Dere go de Honey Dew Melon Man

Wit his sawed off clarinet.

He gonna shoot down some notes tonight,

Dat ain’t neva been shot befo’.


I’m at the gates of St. Peter and Bourbon,

Drunk and weavin’

Swingin’ in a wild comet ellipse around

A garbage can,

Facing a serious

King Kong dive to the pavement.

Trash Can Man, Trash Can Man,

Lawd I’m de Trash Can Man.

Hangin on for dear life…

Dear Lawd, I’m de Trash Can Man.

But the night,

It winces from a lone sax

Pourin’ out a molten stream of silver pain.

Like tears from the eyes of Gabriel

Drops rain down

To form small mercurial beads

In the dusty gutter.


Over on Camp Street,

The bums are stacked

Like three dollar bills

Talkin junk yard cars,

Six bit wine,

And the bastards at Social Services.

Back on Bourbon,

Black kids tip tap

In tattered pants,

Gleaming shoes,

Eyes out for the cops,

While all around them

The machine gun fire of small change

Pings the pavement.

The Honey Dew Melon Man…,

He whips out his piece

And blows the night away.

Stars turn to ice,

And the moon ducks for cover,

While the asphalt rises and falls in rhythm,

A black, breathing snake.

And look!

Horses with hats man,

Horses with hats.

Gray ghosts of better days

Pulling big black carriages,

And small black men,

Who watch the world through

Frayed black hats

And yellow eyes.

Down at the docks,

Tiny waves toss the city lights

Back on themselves

Like Mardi Gras beads,

As river and levee

Kiss with opaque tongues.

And the night is quiet.

And the night is wild.


As the soft gulf breeze

That whispers, “Hurricane,”
To the summer trees.



(Previously Published: Lactuca #3 July, 1986; temm, August, 1990)

I wish I was a bearded jazz musician

Playing to a bunch of drunks in a smoke filled room.

I’d moan out melifluous meloncholy

Till, heads shaking

Eyes deep in their drinks

They’d all see regret in the ice cubes,

And sorrow in the glass.

I wish I was a drunken play musician

Smoking to a bunch of jazz in a beard filled room.

Like Kerouac man,

Riding on a hot car blast off cross country cruise of sound

and light and words, down the black hole hollow tube

shaft space vastness of a saxaphone, past reefer regions of

crystal meth exploding stars, on out through the black blues

nothing of Mexico City Scag.

I wish I was a smoke bearded drunk

Jazzing to a bunch of musicians in a play filled room.

I’d pour it out hot

Like I was painting the walls with lava and brimstone.

I’d lay it down cool as the ice age

So beatniks and dinosaurs’d be shiverin in their boots.

I’d blow it so the wind’d be collectin unemployment

And the birds out lookin for work.

I’d blow so I’d really be

A bearded jazz musician

Playing to a bunch of drunks in a smoke filled room.


Bronx Break Dance

Previously published: In the Desert Sun Anthology1994)

She danced in the fumes of a beat to shit Buick

Beneath rattling rafters

In an empty Yankee Stadium lot.

Two street dogs watched,

Wild eyed
Chomping their matted fur.


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