Poem from book
Exhuming Juliet: a New OrLeANs poet
pages 116-117

The Great Expulsion



Stay, your panties and breasts,

I won’t leave you, small and undressed, ever


Acadian arctic air penetrates New Orleans heat

inside the home we are making,

where we eat and play


I fear the good little girl hypnotized

by the family of cypress whispering

to wade through the swamps

to the old cathedral 

where the altar awaits

the sacrifice of our love,

ceremony complete, happy Cajuns,

preserving their ways

at all costs


As you sit terrified in the ashes of our house

I cheer you with New Orleans jazz,

touch you to slow your breathing,

talk to your heart and beg,

open up your legs to the distant church bell ringing


As we walk down Magazine Street,

Spanish moss begins sprawling across the rooftops,

the strong smell of oil fills the air

in the shadow of the rougarou,

rain pours into New Orleans,

water begins to rise,

your oath of allegiance dies


I promise one last time

to protect our love with my big hands

covering yours, until that day—

mine are cold, folded away


I won’t leave you. Stay.




Poem from book
Exhuming Juliet: a New OrLeANs poet
pages 167-168

West Bank



I cut your hair,

taught you to roller-skate,

danced all night,

you were my woman I treated

tenderly as my little girl,

you rebelled, but my instincts

to love and to protect you were real,

October, November, December,

we made love all those nights and many more,

each holiday a celebration of our love,

the carousel at the zoo

spun us deeper into a knowledge

of each other


Living without you is too many monsters,

a demon pointing to my fate,

I beg you to end this emptiness,

prayer isn’t working,

the doom in my eyes is going unnoticed

by friends, strangers,

and time is running out


This hour I try to live,

shallow breaths from my stinky mouth

bring me closer to the death I don’t want,

please appear at my door soon or

as an angel by tonight


March, April, May

will never hold me in their season,

the ferry to the West Bank,

looking back at New Orleans,

our memories as a couple,

my life as a poet,

black glassy waters of the Mississippi

Poem from book
Crumpled Paper Dolls: a New OrLeANs poet
pages 68-69
Caterpillar Girls
Should have known!
Should have known!
Between a phony butterfly
and a never evolving caterpillar—
Her pleasant sincerity is a funny hat
that droops over her face,
a blind dunce,
a cartoon caterpillar;
a squirming, eyeless caterpillar,
on its back in loose dirt,
like Marilyn Monroe posing on satin sheets
“Me! Me! Pick Me! Love Me!”
If only she could see her dirty white lies,
countless as her dirty green caterpillar legs
spread as wide as a caterpillar can,
collecting tree sap between them,
pasting her tiny opening shut
With her wide, munchy caterpillar mouth she says,
“Sorry I am a liar! So sorry!
Pick me! Pick me!”
She can’t cocoon.
She can’t become pretty things like
the phony butterfly skipping in the air,
dodging under a thorn bush to
organize a glassy, green, symphony of caterpillars
to inch towards me, to befriend me,
inching inside my belly button, to love me,
then inching back out with my shredded heart lining,
bloody red tears of skin like a menstrual cycle
hanging from mushy caterpillar lips,
bright red Kool-Aid lips;
Gory green caterpillar girls that never evolve and say,
“Me! Pick Me! I am sorry I lied! Pick me!”
Poem from book
Crumpled Paper Dolls: a New OrLeANs poet
pages 90-91



Let’s exchange


my romance queen;

for sex, companionship

and barters unseen.


You butter my toast.

Heat up my soup.

Make the phone calls I ask.

Spread crackers on my soup.


I will feed your childish needs,

primitive desires,

and barters unseen.


As long as you are fed, fingered, and put to bed

we balance the exchange.

Your stomach, womb, and face smile

protecting your

princess mess of pain


Another cup of soup please

and don’t forget how I like the cheese.

I eat with the large spoon.

Not that bowl.

I told you I like my crackers sprinkled,

not so whole.


I will fulfill your little girl fantasies,

protect your feelings, by watching my lips,

until the balance of exchange tips.


Then we will fight and scuffle,

my romance queen;

for sex, companionship

and barters unseen.


I told you how to make the soup

and you told me not to make you cry.

Now come with me to take out the trash

and we can question all the reasons why.


Copyright © 2004-2014 Matthew Nolan