There was a blind man once

in the Quarter

on Royale Street near the jumbo hot dog stand

in the middle of a jazz filled night

and November's fury cold

He stretched out a tin cup in a shaking palsied hand

carefully placing his feet on the cobblestones

arms linked with a compatriot - equally blind.

I watched the two of them journey

They gingerly walked and stretched

tin cups in front of them

A beggar's crusade through the crowds of life

I marveled at New Orleans' face

its wealth - its poor - its hungry mouths

French cuisine and Preservation Hall

Café Du Monde and Jackson Square

"Paint your picture, lady?"

The Royale Orleans and antique shops

Worn out horses and carriages

overworked and numb with cold

A Creole version of Central Park

The muddy Mississippi

calliopes and muted trombones

A piece cut out of America's heart

And a man lay in the gutter

snoring off a drunk

in shirtsleeves

his head resting on the stone curb

his soul wavering in hell

There was a blind man once

In the Quarter

etched deep in my rawest wounded memories

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