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The Poetic City: "Untitled" by Elise Layel

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Elise Layel (Photo: Elise Layel)

Editor's Note: We are continuing our "Poetic City" series, and this week we are spotlighting Elise Layel in a three-part series. Growing-up in Northern Virginia, 30 miles west of Washington DC, Elise spent much of her time studying dance. She went off to college to be a dance major at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, where she developed a love of visual art, especially works involving the written word.

After graduation, Elise returned to Washington DC and there danced for The Washington National Opera and Tony Powell Music and Movement. She later returned to the South to be around family, but occasionally traveled north to dance.

In 1997, Elise relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and began to write about New Orleans and its surrounding areas, always inspired by the beauty of the oak, the cypress, and the cultural mix that is the south. We are debuting the final poem in her three-part poetry series. This poem is untitled. 





coins count up to juice

but dollars don’t dance

walking footloose

needing a chance

torn and unlaced

bright white, black, and tan

battered and bruised

in this flooded wasteland

grey, disgruntled hues

impatient after the damp

have nothing to loose

are rough in my hands

distorted branches

exist to try and stand

with pieces of issues

buried deep in the sand


a violent storm can mend

those who work the hard heat

antiques condescend

too fat, too sweet

wrought and worn dens

to escape threatening steam

in daytime skies bend

at night the heat pleads

another heavy pour to end

abandoned houses to clean

new ideas run unlent

not on view in between

class divisions pretend

to upset saturated teams

covered up by the rents


lopsided in colors and dreams