HEY POCKY WAY | Cassandra Voices



In the year of our Lord 2019, what remained engrained was an émigré from the hoi omphaloi of confusion and strife. The Easter in question came late on the calendar but much like the highly controversial transubstantiation, the bitter end of Holy Week started as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. In other words, all at once.

Living in the mountains one can’t escape the effects of a full moon and my particular suburb of the Vatican that is Ireland has finally ended its unconscionable 90 year Good Friday booze ban. So there I am in the supermarket, and U2 with whom despite a vast disparity in our respective net assets, I’ve been periodically privileged to mingle, were piping over the sound system. I noticed there was a sale on vodka. So I mixed a pitcher of Bloody Mary and let the games begin. Think Joaquin Phoenix playing his role as the emperor Commodus in that movie he stole from Russell Crowe called Gladiator shouting ‘AM I NOT MERCIFUL?’

So, I whipped up a polenta, mostly because I was craving grits and I’ll let you in on a little secret… they are and always have been one and the same. Irresistible on my second drink, just ask anyone I’ve shamelessly hit on, I stirred the pot and began to twang melancholy as Dolly, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

Dancing barefoot in one’s own living room provides all the benefits of a Pilates course or an extramarital affair with none of that nasty documentable collateral damage and I am nothing if not prudent in my pursuits. The solitude of sleep did not elude me, furthermore it elucidated a dream from my childhood.

Hours before church I awoke with a lurch to the bleat of an atypical fauna for the sauna that is my beloved Big Easy. A live goat was yoked to a wagon loaded with lovingly hand decorated eggs and sticky store-bought jelly beans. From the centre of this embarrassment of riches, the obligatory bunny leaned toward me like a chocolate Tower of Pisa. Its stature notably stunted by the harsh amputation of what had been fine upstanding ears. Still partially wrapped in jewel toned tin foil, the spoiled candy was a solemn crime scene yet somehow reassuring in that its carnage by friendly fire was an annual event.

This animal sacrifice was no trespass by a neighbouring spaniel, fancy treats foraged while we ate our porridge. No indeed, it was none other than the predictable ritual of our pedigreed bitch. The eternally fertile Irish Setter, Kathleen Haggerty O’Shane, whose thirteen pups had been hijacked under cover of darkness was addicted. Probably on account of those bags of Oreo cookies I shared with her on a regular basis.

It was not our habit to bet if she’d get the rabbit, just when. Only then did we pause in alarm for the second act. Not charming at all in fact, while the goat, who had taken this opportunity to escape, was being confiscated by local authorities, our impeccably bred show dog’s finale included an overwhelming urge to purge her decadent sins with a roiling encore of blood and semi-digested chocolate-soiled tin regurgitated across the floor. Cave Canem.

Years pass and now I’m an extra-cold Cava sippin’ lass livin’ ass backwards but six hours ahead of the time zone I left behind. The import tax on Champagne resigns me to Spanish bubbles for washing away my troubles with a lava-like curry. I write in a hurry because no matter how bold, the past becomes a blur and then you’re just old. It’s late and I’d hate to mention how many Mardi Gras I might’ve seen. It’s not the naughty nights that get you, but more the mournings.

Cancer snuffed another friend on Friday. Felt like a power failure and I can’t find the phone number to report the fault. Alternatively, I’m thinking Lent put a dent in my drinking year. At least the feast of Easter promises a queer quench for that wrenching thirst.

Easter is called Pâque in French and in Louisiana’s patois, especially around Ascension Parish like Lafayette, ‘pâque-ing’ is a verb that refers to a sort of seasonal combat. Kissing cousins bang boiled eggs that, in anticipation, were dyed on Good Friday. We bang’em until one breaks. See, that’s the loser and beware because next time, it could be you.

If you were from Orleans Parish like me, at this stage you’d break into a funk tune by The Mighty Meters, ‘HEY POCKY WAY.’ The illustrious musician, Dr. John, explains: ‘This talk was the Indians’ own Creole language, part French, part Spanish, part Choctaw, part Yoruba, and part mystery to an outsider like me. What the first one said basically was, ‘Where yaatt, bro?’ or the like. And the second one said, ‘Everything’s oaks and herbs’ – which means everything’s cool because they had smoke lots of herbs. If the second one responded ‘No om bah way,’ then y’all had problems…

Saw my first lambing, leaning on a doorjamb here in Wicklow. Don’t forget Joaquin, bein’ a prophet of PETA, wouldn’t have watched the wool I’d always worn being born in the dappled light of a chapel-like barn. It’s the darndest thing to recall my Crescent City slicker’s eyes finally falling on a supersized old poster of Bertie Ahern looking unconcerned. Ain’t no harm in nailing him way up there in the rarefied air, with spare farming gear. After all, Christ rhymes with heist.

Libations risen from Malin to Mizen Head, the grateful dead will come back one day and like pearls before swine, even porcupines and protestants will line up in designer tops. The corks popped should sop every drop of the popish black pool while the so-called cool twine their way like vines exhausted by Pentecost. When the last ground seems lost, between you, me and Jesus, even he knew it’s no use hanging around.

Amazingly, I awoke safe under a duvet in bed. Miraculous, mostly because my mandatory mid-century modern spiral staircase whose perilous design challenges both the sensual and sober, lends that compulsory edge for this over-examined life I’ve yet to deem not worth living.

It’s dawn and smoking the last cigarette in the house, a prayer comes into my head… ‘If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to …’ Never mind that. Take me to the river. Considering the difference between the words slaughter and laughter is a single  ‘S’, a letter of the alphabet which also sits, like a little snake, at the beginning of the word ‘sacrifice’, my advice to you is : Never let’em get your goat.


About Author

Ilsa Carter studied cognitive behaviourism, training at Tulane University in her native New Orleans and the University of San Francisco to earn a Masters of Education in Psychotherapy. The skills Ilsa acquired have proved applicable to a broad spectrum of multicultural populations, notably counseling couples and kids at parochial schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, with expats and sex workers in Tokyo, Japan, or complex cross-border joint ventures with Indian corporate executives and Korean conglomerates. First in the States, later in Asia and finally Europe, Ilsa drove acquisition, integration and sales strategies for multinational financial services companies and marketing consultancies. After gathering experience on the ground in green tea and technology start-ups, Carter quit capitalist exploitation to write poetry, translate literature and edit fiction full-time in the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin. Her work also appears in The Gloss magazine.

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