Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
Beads, Belles, and Balls
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MARDI GRAS: Beads, Belles, and Balls, transports the reader via verse and "prose snapshots" through seven days of Carnival distilled from Jack Beach's three decades in the "toujours gai" Lower French Quarter in New Orleans.  Savor the anticipation when parades, balls, and strip bars are in full swing.  Funky and glamorous; crazy and hilarious. At long last, Mardi Gras Day!  Fantastic costumes flood the streets. Join the crowds. Kiss a pregnant nun! Fall in love! Then, the gray specter of Ash Wednesday and price tag of Lent: the long good-byes and heading home. Memories and mementoes to last a lifetime.

After Hurricane Katrina's devastating assault this fall, you will cherish this superb record of how it was and, pray God, will be one day again.




ZULU Parade:

A time to throw

A time to leap

A time to cheer

A time to weep.

As some Hun stomps your arch

A Vandal tromps your toes and

You are savaged by drunken Visigoths

crying, "Mine!  Mine!"

vaulting so high they

block gold Zulu coconuts

and hunks of sky.




"I earned 'em all an' they are mine!"

crows an Elks matron

from Kankakee, shaking her cans.

"Showed everything heck of a lot to get mine,"

slurs Rock, bead-laden stud

with Swartzenegger pecs.

"Honey, took mah first load back to the pad;

and workin' on my second,"

bleated Little Bo Peep

with detachable boobs

and a five-o'clock shadow.

Mardi Gras Day                                               Jack Beach p.137


(New Stanza)




Last year

Mardi Gras midnight

Struggling home from my final

            buck-in-bikini fix

            at the Corner Pocket,

I caught this sudden glint

beneath a forest of feet

at Bourbon and St.Louis.

Reaching into the street litter,

I retrieved a string of beautiful


(faux of course) beads

which now bedeck the garden entry

of my slave-quarter place.

They are beauty.

They are grace.

They glisten like dew

these rare winter mornings

when fickle old sun

deigns to shine . . .







I'm bucking crowds over on Chartres when I notice this pretty young black lady standing in a doorway. She is wearing a familiar rose uniform and a bevy of Mardi Gras beads.

I surprise her with my, "Hey! I bet you work at the Place d'Armes Hotel."

"Why, how'd you know that, now?" those amber eyes wide in astonishment.

"I live on the third floor across the street.

JACK BEACH (pen name) is a bona fide Yankee. Born in Galesburg, Illinois, he studied at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, U; of Iowa, and Western Reserve U. (Ph.D.). After two decades on the Theatre Faculty at the University of Kansas, Beach pulled up stakes and headed to Atlanta, where his love of Southern Drama and Literature beckoned. Retiring from Agnes Scott College in 1985, he built a home in Pensacola, Florida, and leased a pad in New Orleans. For years he has been hobnobbing around the lower (decadent) end of the French Quarter, collecting the story gems and oddities revealed as poems and "prose snapshots" in MARDI GRAS: Beads, Belles, and Balls.

Beach has published three previous books with Author House: The Three-Mile Bridge (poems) The Grand Tour (travel poems), and Without a Net (short stories).


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