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Madame Tinkertoy's House of Blue Lights

by Tony Whitaker

Black filigreed grating securing sozzled patrons
gin-smacked grins shout down from the loge
sipping Hurricanes and Sazeracs
taunting google-eyed tourists below

Most were slow to stroll as wide-eyed smiles troll
darkened-door dens consumed in their lust
nude bodies dance and hips at once thrust
a sultry scene petitions ‘come on in’

This river town born from broken backs
slaves to blooms of cotton
primal needs filling iniquitous greed
still found in her ‘Quarter’ of sin

N’Ohlens her name
once held claim to fame
wealthiest city in L’America
becoming to both priest and queen
eternal Mardi Gras screams
piquing their sensual scenes

Memories still cling to my Cajun queens
as holding huge steaming plates
crawfish remoulade and Étouffée
or make you feel
"to want to own me?"

This city at night filled our world with delight
With a taste of tunes for the blues
Fats’ fingers still waltzing bone intoned keys
Sachmo’s whisper fills a bygone breeze

A sax harks the walk to Preservation Hall
as you smell and feel a wet, wild fog
then Katrina blew through and took the night
from the faces in the crowd who roared at the sight
Of Madame Tinkertoy’s House of Blue Lights


Author's Note: Inspired from a scene in 'Easy Rider' as spoken by Jack Nicholson in the campfire scene: 'Madame Tinkertoy's House of Blue Lights. Corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, New Orleans, Louisiana.' Now this is supposed to be the finest whorehouse in the South. These ain't no pork chops. These are U.S. Prime.

Posted on 08/30/2009
Copyright © 2021 Tony Whitaker

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 08/30/09 at 05:22 AM

Good as mama's gumbo, and as varied. I like the choice of ingredience, classical film, music, and Katrina, as the kicker. Entertaining. Thanks.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 08/30/09 at 02:00 PM

Thought provoking capture Tony, thanks to your descriptiveness. Well done! Another New Orleans (pre-Katrina) related movie you might want to check out is A Love Song For Bobby Long with John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson. Excellent Blues soundtrack also.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 08/31/09 at 12:09 AM

You hooked me at "sozzled" and never let go!

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 08/31/09 at 01:11 AM

This sizzles and I can see clearly from your descriptions what this must have been like. What an outrageous name(title) - I bet that was easy to remember. My fav stanza is that second to last - something about the flow, music, and those "bone intoned keys" - oh, yeah.... ;)

Posted by Glenn Currier on 08/31/09 at 04:11 PM

Easy Rider, one of my favs - the epitome of an era, yes? My fav line: "Sachmo’s whisper fills a bygone breeze." There is definitely a bluesy sad feel to this, especially remembering Kristina. You also mention my favorite dish in the world: crawfish etoufee. My favorite memory of N.O. is the morning I was turned down for the draft because of sugar in my urine - a salvific day in more ways than one. (I would NOT have made a good soldier.) But walking about the French Quarter in the late morning, smelling the stale beer in the alleys, noticing the cast iron filigree balconies, it was a fine day. You bring it back in a poignant and beautiful manner, my friend.

Posted by Laurie Blum on 08/31/09 at 05:11 PM

This is a picture of vivid wild decadence! I love it I feel as though I am there. Colorfuly written!

Posted by Sandy M. Humphrey on 09/03/09 at 03:07 PM

The imagery is so rich it is like being there. I love the movie reference. smh

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 09/09/09 at 11:48 PM

This is a pure delight from beginning to end!

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