Lionel Batiste

Photo by Infrogmation


Someone stole Uncle Lionel’s bass drum.

It was resting in the courtyard of a bar on

Frenchman Street next to a palmetto

palm under the moonlight .

Uncle Lionel was inside slaking his

thirst with a cold draft Dixie

bought with tips from anonymous

tourists and devoted locals.

The word went out in the humid New Orleans

night, wafting from bar to bar on

the notes of wailing saxophones

and indignant trumpets.

Someone stole Uncle Lionel’s bass drum.

The news hit the streets and ran

on a second line of lightening,

traveling on the dancing feet of the

pissed off patrons of Maison’s and Donna’s

of The Dragon’s Den and The Starlight Lounge.

By word of mouth and cell phone

the call went out; on Facebook and

the Twittertubes, the interwebs

hummed with a purpose.

It’s high alert, New Orleans, because

Someone stole Uncle Lionel’s bass drum.

A varmint is among us.


This poem was inspired by Prompt #113 on ReadWritePoem. This poem is based on a true event – someone did steal Uncle Lionel’s base drum a week or so ago. The thief, however, had second thoughts and left it the next morning in the courtyard of a local cafe. It seems there’s still some honor among thieves.

21 thoughts on “Varmint

  1. Wonderful feel. Quite evocative! I gives a real sense of coherent community where the theft of a drum is an unthinkable offense. New Orleans as a family sort of town. Which, of course, produces a real cognitive dissonance for people who only know it as the North American home of Mardi Gras.


  2. Now, that is cold. Stealing a guitar would be sin enough, but to take a man’s bass drum…
    Glad to see it came back home.
    I like this sense of a community closing ranks, the way all the little nuclii are connected into one organism. And the “don’t mess with one of us” tone.


  3. I am surprised you showed up for the poetic party after your “Who dats” put in such a fine showing. By the by; Andrea’s Capri Blu Lounge has happy hour from 4pm til 7pm. The miscreant must have read your poem, it scared the hell out of me. I know that what happens in NO does not stay in NO, just look how far flung the alarm for Uncle Lionels bass drum has now been broadcast. lol…This was fun to read, thanks Z.


    1. Yeah, we Who Dats are on cloud nine! I didn’t think I’d get to any poetry during the Mardi Gras season but Uncle Lionel just wouldn’t get out of my system until I wrote this. WHO DAT!


  4. Definitely a unique setting and story… I like the bits of repetition that show up throughout, tying it together. A nice interplay between the old and the new as well, though I’m not familiar with Twittertube… 🙂


    1. Joseph, I think “Twittertubes” is probably only a local nick name for Twitter. Seriously, it was all over the local Tweeters and FaceBookers when the drum went missing. It is, after all, Uncle Lionel’s livlihood. Thanks for visiting.
      WHO DAT!


  5. What I enjoyed most was the ‘now’ of the poem. It places it in a very distinct time and place. I also think it was just as well that the thief left the drum someplace and scrammed as he probably wouldn’t have fared well with whoever found him….

    A wonderfully well-crafted and quite enjoyable poem.

    WHO DAT!! (Congratulations to your Saints!)


  6. I loved reading this. Gave me a good feeling – I wanted to be part of such a community. Your poem has just the right lilt of vocabulay and rythmn as the message wafts its way through the town, the indignation!


  7. WHOOOOOOOOOOOO DAT indeed…great game…took lots of guts to start the second half with on side kick…anyways I guess the party never ends now…my hockey team hasn”t won in 40 years also… maybe this year…..anyways enjoyed your words…cn Cheers to you and the Saints


  8. Mark, the thief would have been dead meat if a local found him with that drum.

    TW, you should come for a visit – let me know when you do.

    Wanda, NoLA really is a community and fiercely loyal.

    Wayne, never give up! I think we’re on a high that has no end! We do love our Saints and this city has stood with them for 44 years – every single day was worth it.

    Thanks to all for your well wishes for our Superbowl Champs. WHO DAT!


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