H e a r t S o n s & H e a r t D a u g h t e r s of A l l e n G i n s b e r g
N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 4 : A r c h i v e s E d i t i o n
Mardi Gras was wild. I was a little too paranoid this time to get into the Mardi Gras itself although I did enjoy being in New Orleans and especially traveling there and back on the Green Tortoise bus.
It wasn't so much the being scrunched and belched on block after block in the French Quarter that made me a bit paranoid; nor was it the over-imbibed beer drinkers puking at my ankles; nor was it the obese women stripping on balconies to the roar of the crowd. It was the cops that made me paranoid. Crash helmets and black shades, billy clubs and squared jaws—they were vicious. Say the wrong thing to them and the mistake would be dripping from your skull.
Vagrants—anyone with less than ten bucks in his pocket—were locked up in scores. The cops drove into the Quarter in U-Haul vans and were unloaded by Jackson Square, one of the more pleasant local hang-outs. I usually appreciate simply buying a good sandwich and sitting on a stoop, possibly in sunlight, watching the passersby, merchants, truck drivers, children, buildings, clocks, feeling the city's pulse. This I was afraid to do being that I was vulnerable enough to a pig inspection with long hair and patched jeans.
I therefore stayed in the French Quarter just part of the day and retreated to the town's perimeter where I was living. Richie, my host and brother of Vicki a KPFA volunteer whom I know and lived with for one week in Berkeley was hospitable and when we were both at home pleasant to be with. He worked in a dentist's lab. He provided me with with my own room, a water bed, pot, a smooth downer, laughing gas (a sort of dentist's Spanish fly), an excellent stereo, The Dead, Joni Mitchell, and others.
I must admit though, all wasn't that mellow for me in New Orleans, and at my choice. The first night there, horny and in a hurry, I visited a bar quite plain at the street level, but which became much more imaginative as I ascended the narrow creaky stairway to the orgy room. I was curious to check it out. Passing the third tier, it turned into a leather bar, leather boots and hats, chains, cigarettes and stares. Some cat put his fist, middle knuckle protruding, to my shoulder as I was trying to squeeze through the crowd. Football-like, I shrugged it off, never even seeing the person's face.
In the final climb, in the upstairs room, I never saw any of the faces. It was too dark. I felt brushing against my Wrangle jeans a few lips, however, and many hands, and a number of pricks. Groans came from sections of the room whose boundaries I couldn't determine. A one-inch crack of light focused on a guy's ass getting fucked. It wasn't like two men were having sex—it was simply an ass getting fucked, that's all one saw if one were so unoccupied himself as to look.
I kind of appreciated the animal level of the experience. Pure groans. Do what you want. I felt penned in and in need of air.
I went outside and down the street to Audoban Park and I wrote a letter to David Karen at Harvard and I called Mimi at Penn. I painted on a clown's face, dropped a downer, stumbled around with everyone else, ate Mexican food at Pancho's two bucks for all you can eat and boy did I ever eat.
I noticed after a while that somehow I was hanging around with a pretty black woman around twenty years old. We stood on Bourbon and watched the crowds and were pushed through doorways together and kept each other company. Toward the end of the night she said she needed a place to stay and could she crash where I was staying, and I said ok, and we walked shoulder to shoulder a few miles to the outskirts as the blue light of morning lit the railroad tracks.
We reached Richie's place around daybreak. There was one small mattress in the room. She got into bed with me and I slipped her clothes off and then mine. She asked me not to penetrate her because if she got pregnant her jealous boyfriend in Florida would kill her. I was a little bombed and I didn't stop, and then she pleaded, and I rolled off, but then I went into her from behind. I couldn't tell if she was consenting or relenting. I assumed because she got into bed and let me take her clothes off, she wanted me to keep trying, but maybe not. Later my conscience bothered me. She stayed next to me asleep a long time, if that meant consent, at least I hoped it did.
8 March 76
[Originally published in NHS 2011, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs11/.]