So you can read my books

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Among scars, I am the fresh wound,
Among days, the one that never comes,
Among the bones you find on the beach
the one that sings was mine.
- Lisa Mueller

B. Miller on his excellent site talks of his town. He loves it. He describes it in fascinating detail and spirit. It made me think of the town in which I live.

Its sprawling expanse cups a beautiful rippling lake which it poisons daily with the petro-chemical plants bordering it like Mordor did Middle Earth. If you look up, an eye-aching blue sky will take your breath away. In more ways than one. It has absorbed the poisonous fumes from endless stacks for so long, breathing the air in a course of the day is like smoking four cigarettes. City and state politicians swear all is safe. The national newspapers cite the city as capitol of Cancer Alley which runs along the Gulf Coast.

The city is a strange meld of something Tennessee Williams and Upton Sinclair might have written in a joint affair -- emphasis on Tennessee Williams. One of my older friends was once the "disciplinarian" of the local Hells Angels. I have seen a side of the city few have. He was also once a E.M.T. for the one ambulance service here. Often he told me of dragging into the center, covered in blood, too weary from the many calls to immediately clean up. He would turn on the TV in the break room and hear the local news proclaim the police stating that all was normal.

He laughed, "I suddenly knew their definition for normal : four car accidents, two shootings, and one fatality."

I have a Non-Aggression Pact with the city. I don't mess with it. And it considers me too small to notice. It still possesses great beauty. But like ugly scars criss-crossing a beautiful woman's face, progress slashes away at it.

Terrible poverty and bleak living conditions often within blocks of opulent mansions. The poor turning upon themselves. The oblivious rich attending sprawling, ornate churches. Business owners committing suicide on the premises of the local casinos after having lost all. Silence on the TV and on the radio. Jokes among the citizens that the logo of the local TV news is the three monkeys covering eyes, ears, and mouth. The Plants and the casinos feed the city's treasuries. Cancer rates, ruined lives, and closed businesses are proclaimed independent of the cash cows.

Then why stay? It is the city in which I spent my teenage years. All the friends I made, I made here. Here is where I grew to know my mother as one adult knows another. This is the city in which my best friend lives. The common people here have a zest for living that I have seldom met elsewhere. If they hate you, you know it. If they are your friend, they always have your back -- even when it would be smart to look the other way. They live large. Broad, bold strokes for them. No small, mean snipes. The city loves Mardi Gras so much that it has found a way to have two of them every year. No ambushes from smiling faces. And the last time I checked, the powerful eat the helpless in every city in every state.

And in a few minutes, you can drive to great expanses of wildernesses. In fact, one of the last great American wildernesses is only minutes from here : the Creole Nature Trail. { for a more detailed description of it from me go to}

Drive it long enough, and you can catch the faint breath of the ocean. It is like the Great Mystery reminding me this land had once been a clean wilderness, where the waves came in, creamed up to the shore, and their breath smelled of something besides hot fear and cold greed.

Now, I sit at night on the terrace of my apartment bordering a small rippling bayou, watching the graceful egrets and floating beer bottles while listening to the voice of the city.

In the distance, the banshee wails of police sirens and ambulances. The night is never silent long here. In the darkness, somebody is always runing and somebody else is trying to catch him. I look into the blackness and know somewhere out there, people are hungry, sick, forlorn, desperate with fear or loneliness. And others are shaken by sobs or anger. Mankind is not very kind.

It is a city no worse than others. A city filled with hope, pride, and ambition. But mostly, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.

This is the city that I know.

And to end the night with a bit of bitter beauty, here is the haunting melody ADIEMUS set to scenes from 300 :


  1. Nicely written portrait of a place you've convinced me I wouldn't want to be, but then again everyplace has something good that you can find if you look hard enough. If you're talking about Lake Charles, then, yes, I've been there and wasn't overly impressed. I didn't really stay long enough to get attached in any way. Usually I just pass thru there on my way to somewhere else.
    Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

  2. A post that wanders the realities of inner worlds - where a town has had a makeover and you look beneath the cosmetic mask! A very senstive, interesting exploration! At least there is the Creole Trail to refresh in the old ways.

  3. I wonder if you speak softly, the same way you write. You have such powerful words yet they're so beautifully contrived you'd never know they were harsh and ugly.

    I could never live where you do. I was born on the water and so need to see the vast expanses. right now, I'm at the bottom of a mountain in suburbia but I have nothing behind me but fields and trees. It's not blue but it's not people either. someday I'll go back to the ocean.

  4. Thanks for sharing Roland, what vivid descriptions!

  5. You are right. Your city may have many qualities unique to itself, but not in the spirits that reside there. Everywhere there is loss of hope, loss of direction, a sense of despair and loneliness. Nor is this unique to the cities.

  6. I can see the place. Excellent writing here.

  7. Gorgeous piece of writing - I can visualise it straight away. Thanks for sharing that!

    And thanks also for dropping by my blog! :)

  8. I thank everyone for dropping by.

    Arlee, you are perceptive. Every place does have something good in it. May your journeys through my city take you to happy destinations.

    Gemma, thank you for dropping by. And yes, there is always the Creole Nature Trail. And cyber-friends like you.

    Anne, as a matter of fact I do tend to speak softly. As Mother said, "Your words are not more true because you shout them." And you are a trooper for taking time to write me after such a close call with a tornado! Stay safe.

    Matthew, thanks for dropping in and reading. And more thanks on the compliments on my descriptions.

    Christi, the human dilemma is universal. But then so is the equally human quest to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Have a today to feel good about tomorrow, Roland

  9. Roland, this was a great post with some wonderful descriptions. I'm so glad my words inspired you to write such an eye-opening piece about the city you live in. I think you're a trouper to keep right on going in spite of the drawbacks of your location.

    Thanks for the shout-out, by the way!! :D

  10. "...the faint breath of the ocean." I love that line!

  11. Gorgeous descriptions, makes me want to experience it for myself! Stop by my blog today when you get a chance, I left you an award there!!

    Have a great weekend,

  12. Wow, amazing description here Roland! Can't wait to read more of your work! Have a great weekend!

  13. Very vivid, I can see places I have driven through on journeys and road trips to new locations! There is good n' bad everywhere!
    (even Hawaii ;-D)