The sound of a lone freight train breaks the hush of golden filtered light.
Autumn afternoon.. reminder that the green of the yard and the tangerine dreamscope
isn’t far from the urban jungle ; the grime of city streets and the graffiti splashed buildings.
Light in autumn dances through leaves of trees, lingers longingly across grass as if hands are
stretching brush strokes across time; and this moment is fleeting. It is daring the artist eye
to capture the sky in most vivid of blue. City busses pass over bridge that spans the bay; the water
is transparent glass stirred to shimmer ; its wake a myopic lens of the world gleaming mother of pearl
luster. Florida witnesses Autumn like this: the observer sees the change in light ; the yellow glow
that embraces the upper limbs of trees, the cool breeze that whispers night is falling, pink cotton
candy clouds dot the sky a celebration of color that is apparent in no other season.
Downtown St Petersburg at 5pm the soul of the city awakens between skyscrapers. Sit at Williams Park
watch the girls in their short denim shorts get off the 23 or the 14 on clear stilleto heels sway across pavement
wiggling their hips to Sinn and Bottom to Top to swing upside down and weightless off poles , using what
was given to them to make their weekly rent and buy a pack of smokes. Jamaican Dreadlocks sit shoulder to shoulder
on grassy wall near terminal 18 rolling a blunt. His long weathered fingers separate stems and seeds..
and roll in one continuous movement.Rocking and humming to Jah under his breath.. long braids tucked under green red and
yellow crocheted hat he is body in motion, while veterans roll by in wheel chairs , American flag hoisted behind
flying in the wind carrying scent of canibus and hotdogs from corner steetcart vendor. Skate punk wanna-stick-his -nose
skreetches to halt in front of Jamaican Dred, kick flips his board to his hands and shouts “What it be man.. that’s what Im talkin
about”. Barely looking up over eyebrows the Rasta gauge(s) the young punk, and before the slowly drifting green and gold car could
pause and find a reason to give him shiny silver cuffs for the night.. he bounces up and blunt behind ear he is off muttering about
“not worth the time to knock your ass out”. Skate punk shrugs shakes a can of paint.. and is off to find a vacant wall to decorate
with his own brand name artwork. Its five o’clock the sax player down on 3rd street can be heard playing from his corner, blue notes
blue records and Daddy Kool , its doors open for any one to find vinal to spin Hendrix to Misfits to Coltrane. Be boppp be bopp aloula be boppp.
” Where IS the SOUL FOOD ” shouted an oversized hulk of a man sitting down next to me on the 18. ” There is no SOUL FOOD in St Petersburg.”. well you neva eva paid attention man..Take a walk just down Central ave, smell the Crawfish Etoufee and the crunchy
crusty baquette overstuffed with Crawfish drizzled with creole chipolte sauce, keep walkin to fourth street to the Bangkok #4 for a taste of Thai and hot and sour soup. Want Cuban? The Columbian atop the fourth floor of the Pier has Paiella..yellow rice covered with sausage,chicken and shrimp and fried camelari. Not found your xone? Shirley and Lous the landmark on 5th only to be second to Atwaters Cafe the home of thecollard greens, and blackeyed peas and cornbread cooked in cast iron frying pans with creamed corn. Who said chicken? Sorry Fergs is the place to be on First Ave across from Tropicana Field for twenty different flavors of wing sauce and
all the beer from across the globe. But to get more taste of Nawlins you will need to trip across the bay to Tampa to Cafe Nola and stay for their open mic, a camraderie of poets and musicians that take it out to the wee hours with pizazz and chickory coffee straight from Cafe DuMonde. Beneighs!! OH the sugar high sweetness. Walk on up and dont be shy right next to Haslams Book Store on Central to the Crab Shack where the spicy old Bay seasoned crab goodness drifts on down the road and the artwork on this section of the street is jazz.. and graphic and sound . Buildings splashed with murals of soul and heart, pelicans in flight four stories up on a water tower.. I often wonder how the painters did that..I want to be that bird. flying the length of the city walking the streets that are lined with dispair and hope in synchrotronic beat, the homeless sleeping lined back to back on the pavement around the corner of 1st and 5th st, the Cathedral walls their protection from what? Do they get to sample the smells and herbs that float along these avenues of Soul? Yes.. the chicken man for twenty years has packed boxes and distributed them along Mirror Lake every day at five..his white truck open to the dirty hands
and sunstroked faces of those who have grocery carts pulled behind them with piles of remnants of former lives . The fountain in the lake is the focal point of wishes that may never be heard by human ear, but in the eyes of the world this is a soul kitchen on wheels.
” Whats your dream” Shouts the veteran on two wheels, weathered face weaving his bike in and out of pedestrians. ” Obama aint carin about our dreams man.. come home from Iraq, no jobs, no home, no wife , no life.. I dont know what I did it all for man.” He stops at the corner , where an old veteran in a wheel chair sits everyday this time. He has no legs, but has the bearing and presence of Colin Powell sitting erect and proud his purple heart always evident on his jacket. The younger Marine stops gets off his bike and quickly salutes, and hands the old sergeant his white box of chicken, mashed and corn on the cob. “Sorry sir they were fresh out of collard greens, but I gots ya extra rice pudding today” This is the soul of the city.. the soul that doesnt sleep. It keeps one eye open, under white globed street lights.. and shares its last meal with you anyhow.