Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Slang for Brother Pierre

Say hello, his name is Brother Pierre. Maybe he's 78 years old. I say maybe because his words are not easy to understand, but still, his eyes speak to me clearly. I found him in Slidell, Louisiana, on the grounds of the high school I attended my freshman year, but he doesn't work for the school. His jumpsuit is from the Universal Life Church, it says he's an Archbishop.
"And if you'd 'a took to me like a gull takes to the wind. Well, I'd 'a jumped from my tree and I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores and the rest of our lives would 'a fared well."
I was sitting on the subway back in NYC, blocking the world out with music, with the faces of The Gulf floating in my memory, and the problems of my family heavy on my shoulders. She stood in front of me, her tough subway face on, dark hair and low cut jeans, and behind my sunglasses I was distracted and decided to photograph her with my eyes. She wasn't young anymore, but not old, either. Her body wasn't perky anymore, but not saggy, either. Her arms had veins near the wrist. Not little blue veins, but bigger fleshy veins, like men get, but a more feminine version. Just a few, as if she was a sculptor, and worked with her hands a lot. But none of this matters, because the picture I took with my eyes, behind my sunglasses, was of her breasts, which were in my face.
"New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries. Hope it's right when you die, old and bony. Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall, never should have called but my head's to the wall and I'm lonely.

When I walked up to Brother Pierre he dropped the trash he was picking up and stood at attention, as if he was a Private and I a visiting General. When I said Hello he went slack, at ease. He was a reed, a wisp of a man. When I shook his hand it weighed nothing. I could have broken him with my fist, and this made me want to protect him. There were drops of water on his beard near where his mouth was. All these things about Brother Pierre I already knew, because I remembered him from my childhood.
"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn, may they all cut their thumbs, and bleed into their buns 'till they melt away."
Her t-shirt was black, with a square patch of rough white texture in the middle of her chest. A faded decal. Like I said, she wasn't young, and her body had the comfortable shape of something that's been used as it's intended, but still has so much life left yet. A worn glove, a fading t-shirt, ragged jeans, all these things are similar, but all sound too bad for my intent. Imagine all those things as yours, and you made them that way, and they make you feel happy just seeing them, and that's what her body was like. That's what her breasts were like. They were bigger than medium, but not large, and shaped like soft teardrops. I watched them sway with her body, which swayed with the train. I saw her flex her upper arm rhythmically as she hung to the support bar, and this tugged her breast up and down, almost imperceptibly, and I wondered how long she had had this subway breast exercise routine. Such an efficient and beautiful aging and comfortable distraction, making me happy. And I've got almost a thousand more words in this snapshot of her, but that's enough for here.
"I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find. Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?"
When I was a child Brother Pierre looked just like he did in these pictures. Different jumpsuits, different hats, same Brother Pierre. He rode a bike around town, heaping trash bags hanging from everywhere. We would honk and wave and smile, and he would smile and wave right back, if he wasn't busy pedaling. Some say he once had a successful business here, with his Brother Wayne. I don't know what happened to the Brothers and their business to leave Pierre alone and in this state, but it must have happened a long long time ago, and he's been a fading life ever since. Dwindling.
"Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth. Only, I don't know how they got out, dear. Turn me back into the pet that I was when we met. I was happier then with no mind-set."

Woman gave me life. When I was five music saved my life. When I was ten art saved my life. When I was fifteen skatepunk saved my life. When I was twenty-five photography saved my life.

I wonder what could have saved Brother Pierre's life?


clayton cubitt said...

A book's in the works, brother...

posted by: siege on 9/20/2005 9:21:52 PM


Clayton,please write some kind of book. PLEASE !!! I really don't care what it is about, I just love your words.

posted by: dirtwood on 9/20/2005 6:10:56 PM


this is an amazing picture

posted by: liquidliner on 9/20/2005 5:53:27 PM


Love the Shins. Good choice of lyric.

posted by: kopaylopa on 9/20/2005 12:21:43 PM

Anonymous said...

I'm also a member of the church. CHeck it out: http://www.ulc.net/

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, I'm from Slidell, grew up in Waveland, and the school in this picture is the one I graduated from...

Anonymous said...

His brother recently died. His name is Corky, so I've heard. And he actually isn't homeless, though most people in Slidell think he is. Great pictures (:

sundevil5 said...

The full name of brother Pierre is Pierre Sarraille (pronounced Sir riley). I know of no brother named Wayne. Maybe there was a Wayne Sarraille, but I am unaware of him. The only brother I knew Pierre had was Andre Sarraille who owned and operated a grocery business in Slidell for many years. Andre is now deceased, but I know he loved Pierre dearly and care very much for him.

Pierre was known by his nickname to many of us in Slidell - Corky - but Andre always called him Pierre.

Both are lovely people and I will remember them fondly.

Anonymous said...

i believe that sundevil5 is right about who he is. I lived in slidell since 1980 and the name Sarraille rings a bell with this man. He has always been a fixture. And no, he is not one of the brothers who used to carry the shovels. I believe they have both passed.