Grief by artist, Amy Roberts, @1988
“It was not a normal hurricane...”
-- Bush, in his address to the nation from New Orleans,
Was she a giant spider escaped
from the rings of Saturn,
or a mutated crayfish crashing the barricades .
piled in the brink like mashed potatoes
and gravy, or was She a lightning bolt spooked
out of the black and blue lagoon, or a passing
fad taking the market by storm,
or was she just visiting the wet-land bayou
that army corps of engineered no more
and like a mother of four
living hand to mouth got pissed?
If not the heart the liver and spleen
have been tore out of the country
soul first left to rot in the delta
by the tens of thousands poor
and the hurricane lamps
and the hurricane oil lighter than water
unless one counts the toxins,
fry-later grease and the Malathion
run off to kill the insects in the fields
of share-crops where the Mississippi
rolls over bucks for the combines,
cotton wicks drowned in the boxes and those
in the confines of bloated wharves
gone to deep six in the gulf
between the haves’ and the have nots’ husk.
The baby jazz smothered in their cribs
and the blues men blown over into the dark
drink like rum and coke nothing’s changed
and as usually no bureaucrats charged
not one croc in the public works to be
held accountable again and little you
and little me dismissed by fat cats
and Hollywood TV without a peep
unsung solidarity for them in New Orleans
and the muddy proscenium of the deepest South.
One of the sacred cities of the continental cut
with St. Augustine and San Antonio exposed
on either side where the soul of America
quickens from a skip to a back slide.
Where will Nature strike the nine pins next?
What does it all mean, should we pray to God
on our knees when the ministers and priest
have lost before the open and shut eyes
of the dispossessed, the working mother of four
who survives pay check to pay check and huddles
with the rest of them people in the bottom lands
filled up like a bowl without no cereal or soup tho’
but what else is different, nothing has changed.
Unless you can catch a glimpse in the poisoned
sheen waiving like the flag but black and overturned
the slave ships ghostly prowed toward the blocks
block after block slave auctions without terminus
or old Ponce De Leon privateer and skinner
of muskrats whose ghost would be less fearful
than most being a Frenchman stoked the high ground
for a Quarter frequented by intoxicated tourists
Northern for cous- cous and gumbo and a voodoo
tease in the yellow fever of the souvenir news.
Speaking of the turn of the screw what agency
will comfort if not the poor minority and Cajun
parishes perished under the surge in the cycle
gone made hotter than hell and globally warmed
to a irreversible burn but the creatures of the mojo
midnight witching hour in the silvered glass,
the aristocratic vampyre, pathetic zombie hordes,
and even a loupe-garue or two, when its obvious
from the tube there’s not even a place for the living dead
to lay their heads but then again perhaps all these
things have got themselves an office in Washington D.C.
Nothing ‘round these parts, nothing ever changes much.
So on the third day I caught the Louisiana Governor say
cease and desist the search and rescue in effect
get your shot guns loaded
and the billy clubs spit shined
‘cos there’s poor people roving behind the picture-
windows, Walmart, K-mart, Quickie-mart
must be defended at all costs, money floats the whole damn
network, as visions of ownership danced
in their profits’ heads, the disparate are
racing off with diapers, colored televisions, and bread
and bargain basement semi-automatics to kill the living dead.
Eighteen holes cut short for the vacationing Feds.
The mass media spun and monopolized
same old same old to keep us hypnotized
looter and helicopter rerun nine to five
obscuring the truth that the poor are sodomized
day after day under the boots of a corrupt
and underworldly government bottom to top.
What are systems, lies, dirty deals
in face of the homeless panning for a meal
when the wrath makes all the church bells squeal,
Old deities send plagues and catastrophe
against the common people when tyrants reign
so that them folk will rise up against those
in power who rile and ruin the humane
Earth and sign the times with monster births.
Nothing ever changes but there’s chance
a third or fourth party might emerge at last.
Let those who dodge just desserts swill like hogs,
our Creator has proved more powerful than their God.