Two Poems

Karrie Waarala

Crescent City Love Song


New Orleans, you beautiful bitch, you.

When the shattered rattle of the road

ricochets too hard, you always

open your sweaty embrace, tuck me

into the armpit of the Quarter,

murmur low and syrupy that I

belong, that I should put up my

loss-caked boots and stay awhile.


You tell me I am as red light gorgeous as

you are and just because every girl swallows

that whisper don’t mean I don’t believe. You pour

absinthe and accordion notes down my throat,

sing to me in chords of bicycle tires on

wet midnight pavement, nudge me back into

the prayer book hands of the mule driver

you keep stashed away for me.


I am not a sideshow here. Just a speck of freakish

flotsam swirling along these voodoo streets, one more

puzzle piece clashing fevered up against the rest, trying to

mesh into a picture called chaos. Or forget.

Glances slide off the bare zoo of my arms, apathy

brushes past my mausoleum back, I am an

anonymous mounted butterfly, weightless.

But I will stay just until I miss the heaviness of eyes.




The Tattooed Lady Answers the Marks


Tomorrow this bundle of escape wrapped up in lights

and canvas will be an empty field once more,
the sideshow, a handful of yanked up stakes,
and we will be nothing but taillights.


And after you wash the cotton candy

out of your one good dress and the toy soldier
your kid won at the milk can pitch breaks,

once your calendar blanches back into empty


squares and the stink of hogs won't scrub

out of your hair, when the tractor coughs its last

and the bank calls to inquire about the flagging
mortgage and we are riding the bills that lined


your pockets yesterday across an entire map
of state lines, gypsy-blooded and long gone,

where will you be? What will you be?
Will you even know who you are?


Tell me.

How much does that hurt?

 About the Writer

​​Karrie Waarala's work has appeared in several journals such as Iron Horse Literary Review, PANK, The Collagist, Southern Indiana Review, and Vinyl. She is the poetry editor for the museum of americana and holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. Recipient of the 2012 Pocataligo Poetry Prize and a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, Karrie has also received critical acclaim for her one-woman show, LONG GONE: A Poetry Sideshow, which is based on her collection of circus poems. She really wishes she could tame tigers and swallow swords.