New Orleans Sestina Against Order

We're driving 900 miles in 17 hours, for a reason—
perhaps to feel like nothing through the nothing
of pasture flat as the highway tarmac, or to be lost
through the x's of Loxley and Biloxi, or to forget
like exit-number towns that have forgotten the meaning
of their Indian names. 10am at Shoney's we order
lunch instead of breakfast. I'll put in your order—
right away, the waitress smirks. Must be a reason,
why she hasn't left this place, I guess, nothing
to lose, I figure, the way we left last night, lost
and incidental down I-70 doing 80, forgetting
the stars hitting the windshield and the meanings
I give them—hope|awe|dream—against the mean
of my life, days like the billboards flashing orders:
sleep here|eat this now|exit here—for no reason.
Perhaps nothingness drives us to somethingness
and that's why we hit the road, to find what's lost
by losing ourselves, to remember by forgetting
who we are, only needing to find a station to forget
the hours left with preachers claiming we're meant
for the Kingdom of Heaven if we follow Jesus' orders.
Though I don't believe, I start conjuring up reasons
for my sins, can't forgive myself for wanting nothing
more than this easy ride on a weekend. We're lost
lambs in The Big Easy without a map, but don't lose
a minute of Bourbon St. sax and tap, before getting
voodoo dolls, Hurricanes, beads, and a meal meant
for a Cajun king: crawfish gumbo, catfish, an order
of beigné at Du Monde, thinking: Is this the reason?
Is this it? when our waiter says: Ain't heard nothing
‘til you go to Nugget's. So we go there, nothing
but a beat-up bass, an upright piano, drums lost
behind a spotlight on a woman dressed in forget-
me-not colors, her voice like cider, clove, menthe
liquoring my ears, her face a cameo ordering
me to feel every second—and that's the reason
why we came, nothing like N'awlins to lose
yourself in a song, forget order, find meaning
in a voice sing'n: ain't no reas'n, ain't no reas'n.
Place of Mind
Richard Blanco

Place of Mind

Richard Blanco

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