Around the time Tennessee Williams died I was having
sex twelve times a day and thought
it would last forever. The Desire bus
had its route by my Eighth Ward house, down to
the Ninth Ward, past the corner grocery
with dingy brooms stacked outside, two old
men playing cards. Past Jewel’s Tavern,
all the beautiful gentle boys with their arms
around each other who would die,
my friend Girard dead of AIDS before he was thirty, cloisonné
bottles in his antiques store gathering dust.
Past Verti Mart on Royal Street, where I’d go
for fried catfish, barbequed chicken, congealed
squares of macaroni and cheese.
Didn’t know the vaults already had me.
Thought desire would last forever.
Slow dissolve. Blood clots.
Noose of beads
for tourists. Yearly
profits. And where
am I in all this? I’m a ghost,
holding my heart on a plate.
Dancing on Rampart and Dumaine.
Sharon Olinka is the author of the poetry collections Old Ballerina Club (Dos Madres Press, 2016), The Good City (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), and A Face Not My Own (West End Press, 1995.) Winner of a Barbara Deming Memorial Award, her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Barrow Street, Poetry Wales, Jewish Quarterly, Drunken Boat, and the anthology Bum Rush the Page: a Def Poetry Jam (Broadway Books, 2001), edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera.
This poem appears in Old Ballerina Club and originally appeared in The Cafe Review.