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The Poetic City: “Lay of the Land” by Elise Layel

Mint Cream 100%

Mint Cream 100% (Photo credit: 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 second poem in her three-part poetry series with her poem” Lay of the Land.”


Lay of the Land by Elise Layel

behind the travels downtown


low traded facts

no middle ground

girl rack

ysl backpack

gold edged pleats

porched outta streets

parking lot laws

my love of alcohol

seduced by the heat

chained up beliefs

no rules lost and found

steady limits, just a taste

wide up open space

no less set down

plantless underground

old, deep shaded sound

spoken in looming shapes

mist, crepes, ritual space


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