French Quarter coffee shop; ancient, transformed
corner building with a long view; cloudy morning
of post-Saturday revelry, mingling with locals – the
normal eclectic folks of ‘The Quarter’ just being:
an older man obliviously sketches in a large pad,
a young woman writes in her leather-clad journal,
there are multiple laptops in use, a wide variety of
newspapers strewn about, left graciously by others
on the tables; my battered pocket notebook slowly
filling up as my cup languidly drains

Gawker tourists slow down while passing, eyeing
through eight-foot windows the local flavor,
animatedly debating the merits of stopping in for
a true New Orleans coffee experience wondering,
in their own pseudo-Bohemian ways, their personal
worthiness, unaware they already possess it

I was that gawker once; stranger in a strange land,
outsider looking in, in awe of the mystique

Now, some five years later, I sit at a table turned,
so to speak; now I am on the inside looking out;
showing up just often enough, comfortable enough
in my status as local gawkee that I get the occasional
smile or nod from the many authentics I encounter

Not yet a true insider, I am enough at ease that I
blend in with the locals, also understanding well the
allure from the other side of tempered glass, grateful
that I succumbed to the siren song that is the city of
New Orleans, wondering how many of those gazing
from outside will eventually be as charmed?

I want to get up, invite them to come on in, or to tell
them just stay there for a while, to let me watch them
watching me fill my notebook, as I have coffee to drink,
and plenty of blank pages to fill with freshly inspired ink.