The Sweatshirt

It was just a small bundle of fibers, cotton and polyester

But when I caught sight of it I lost my breath for a second

Like I used to too often feel my breath catch all the time.

I gently unfolded it to see if it was what my muscle memory knew it was.

Your old holey sweatshirt.

Holy now, in a way, worn now by your son

To maybe exercise his muscle memory.

Fourteen years. Fourteen years!

Who could know that pitiful truth? Which is

You are missed still in ways both wistful and immense

And daily.

Sometimes with a faint smile and less often

With the hot tears I spent

Clutching your holey, holy old sweatshirt.

A shroud now for the sorrow our child harbors like a confused miser

It might be the last thing he releases when he is old

And ready to go on to where you are.

It was without doubt

The last thing in my hands before I jumped into oblivion

Night after night seeking rest from the anguish

The missing

The feelings too big for my frame.

And though I sewed myself back together

And let go of the anchor that tied me so well

Sometimes I find things that should have been rendered benign

And again grief, she finds me.

The Real Unauthorized Love Letter to Baton Rouge Les Miles Could Not Print

The “Love Letter to Baton Rouge” The Huffington Post could not print.

 

Hello, damn strong and fine city that is named Baton Rouge. This is your coach, Les Miles, of the most spectacular Louisiana State University Fighting Tigers.

I read once that “Baton Rouge” means “red stick” in New Zealandish. I read that in a book, or if I read books maybe I read that. Maybe a lineman told me that pulling my leg. Literally tugging on the high to mid upper quadrant of my leg. Outstanding player, that lineman, and you can put that in the book too. 

My point is, books or game film, I love this fucking city. Excuse my language. I love this city. It’s spectacular. Sometimes I want to grab it around the waist or neck and kiss it on the mouth like a son of bitch. Excuse me again. It’s hard for me to contain my fevered passion for this town. If it is just a “red stick,” I feel like we have a stick to stone relationship. This fine city is a stick, and I’m a damn stone who’s going to be at the fine football program at LSU until you’re rubber, and I’m glue.

I’m Les Miles, and I am damn proud to smell of victory (corndog).

Have a nice day.

Our Happy Place: Examining Why Louisiana is Home to the 5 Happiest Cities in America

I’ve often jokingly told friends who do not AND have not ever made their home here in The Bayou State, “If you can be happy in Louisiana, you can be happy anywhere.” And when a working paper from Harvard and the Vancouver School was made public last month stating- based their study of CDC info, demographics, and income- that Louisiana is home to the top 5 happiest cities in the United States, I was reminded of this little joke I’ve told, usually in response to the ridiculousness of our politicians, the horror of our natural disasters, or the vast social and economic problems we face. There’s some truth in most humor, but my honest feeling is this: If you truly find happiness here, in this place of great joy and great decay, you really never want to leave.

I was born here in South Louisiana, and my mother’s family began its American journey in what was Spanish-ruled New Orleans over 200 years ago. One of my great grandfathers was sent here serving with the Spanish Armada, so the story goes, but when it was time for him to depart back for Spain, he jumped from his ship, into the roaring Mississippi, and swam back to shore. He never looked back. Something about this place gets into your blood. I still feel it mine all these generations later.

Yet, it’s far from Utopia. It’s infuriating as hell at times: were it not for our neighbor Mississippi, a beautiful place in its own right, we’d likely be at the bottom of the barrel in every category, be it education, economics, or medical care, that makes an area an actual good place to live. Louisiana is and has always been a place of horrific violence, the ugliest, terrifying side of nature, oppression, ignorance, and secrets. But also a place of startling beauty, passionate music, camaraderie, hospitality, and perseverance. In such a hopeless place that should by most rights be under the sea, our predecessors and forebears made their lives. They celebrated what was good. They made families who made families, and they stuck it out and stuck together. Many, of course, still do.

So what is it about this murky, wet place that keeps so many of us here? I like to think our hearts just know their home. Sure, many of us must move on, it’s a necessity to at times to make a better life in another place, but ask any ex-expatriate once they’ve left, and they will tell you, it’s in Louisiana where they’ve left their heart, and this place still whispers their name.

Maybe this isn’t really the happiest place in America, but it is for us who love Louisiana, always home.