Bio Note: Find my many takes on the rocky marriage between freedom and the American highway in my second book "My Life in Cars." My poems have appeared in the Xavier Review, Rattle, and Canary as well as myriad other literary journals and anthologies. Raised amid Illinois cornfields, I am an occupational therapist living with my wife, Renee, under the branches of live oaks in Baton Rouge, LA.
It Is Raining Again
For Lucy Blu The soft rain, the bare tics from clouds too heavy to contain themselves anymore. Sometimes in New Orleans it is hard to tell the difference between a cry of joy, a cleansing cry and someone who just came here to give up coughing out tears quietly by an alleyway or in a bar. Laughter is close behind the pain here. Or ahead of it. Anyway, rain is ticking onto statues of generals, statues of musicians, onto pigeons whose orange claws brighten. Silver chains of rain slink into the sewer or pool in low spots in asphalt. Trickles dive off roof tops down long links of copper gutters, spills out on the sidewalk as lovers pass. Rain sidles down where the many colored pigeons bathe in a shimmer of puddle. As pairs head back to hotel rooms of urgency and joy, an older couple sits under an awning. Their love exactly as it is here, intact as they sip, pass a warm cup slowly, back and forth, hand often touching hand.
In Memory of Ellis Marsalis
What is an arpeggio that it sails so quickly – ear to heart, resonates, heightens the instant, for as long as it lasts? Back held erect, with calm authority you nurtured the keys. There wasn’t a song you couldn’t take apart put back together transformed simply the way light bends a straight rod underwater. In your hands in the movement of your hands in the movement of your hands over keys came arpeggios the soul did not know it knew.
Originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician 2020
It is two in the afternoon. Two, on this rag-tag stretch of beach in Cajun paradise, Grand Isle. Just beyond the shelf where surf churns up, brown pelican pump and glide inches above bronze sea caps. We are four. Languishing. Dangled across soccer chairs. Swizzled. We sip, gab, gossip, reminisce in the total glut of Saturday. The full blare of a March sun bakes bones. I squint. Nudge feet into sand. Skin drinks strong wind on this sand-strip, barrier island. This extreme border of America during extreme times but under the least extreme of conditions. The only other people on this beach are a couple old enough to have picked up crows feet. Old enough that they should have children darting in and out of waves, burying themselves up to the neck in sand. Instead they are here alone, drunk-ass-drunk by two. Their hips swirl as surf crashes behind but they are oblivious, gloriously immured, melded, eyes locked onto one another. An hour ago they left chairs, a shade cover. He has a boom box hoisted up on his shoulder. His arm, muscled by years of labor, effortlessly lifts to curl up around the radio whose blast is so thankfully blanketed by gulf winds that we can not make out whether the strains of song are country thrum or the cheap fire of rock and roll, though they are only sixty feet away. Feet churn, hips roll, loll, dip. Slow and mesmerizing swell of two bodies immersed together into a sweet, drunken stir of a Saturday’s roux upon the deeply brown sands, in the close heat of a March sun, unblocked. Cooked until they can not tell where surf or sun stop and where their selves begin. It is Saturday, effortless Saturday. It is two, only two.
©2021 Ed Ruzicka
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