Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 6

050831-N-8154G-115 New Orleans, La. (Aug 31, 2005) Ð Aerial view from a U.S. Navy helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Eight (HSC-28), showing the rising flood waters threatening the entire downtown New Orleans city center, including the famed New Orleans Saints Super Dome. Tens of thousands of displaced citizens sought shelter at the dome, before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, but have been forced to evacuate as flood waters continue to rise throughout the area. HSC-28 flies the MH-60S Seahawk variant, based out of Norfolk, Va., and is embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) participating in humanitarian assistance operations led by the Department of Defense, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Bataan has been tasked to be the Maritime Disaster Relief Coordinator for the NavyÕs role in the relief efforts. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Jeremy L. Grisham (RELEASED)
050831-N-8154G-115
New Orleans, La. (Aug 31, 2005) Ð Aerial view from a U.S. Navy helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Eight (HSC-28), showing the rising flood waters threatening the entire downtown New Orleans city center, including the famed New Orleans Saints Super Dome. Tens of thousands of displaced citizens sought shelter at the dome, before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, but have been forced to evacuate as flood waters continue to rise throughout the area. HSC-28 flies the MH-60S Seahawk variant, based out of Norfolk, Va., and is embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) participating in humanitarian assistance operations led by the Department of Defense, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Bataan has been tasked to be the Maritime Disaster Relief Coordinator for the NavyÕs role in the relief efforts. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jeremy L. Grisham (RELEASED)

In rememberance of lives lost and lives forever changed due to the Federal levee breach in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’ll be posting poems and short essays I’ve written over the past 10 years through August 29.

Never Forget.

*****

Washed Away

Every time I smell that scent

it brings back those long summer

days – and the winter ones too –

when we all sat outside together

smoking and talking, laughing at

your stories, you were always

the funny one quick with a joke

and a smile, the glint of devilment in

your soft brown eyes, you beguiled

us all with your charming Cajun ways

talking about growing up on the bayou,

riding bikes in the cane fields where

you claimed you once saw a Big Foot

and about how the older boys chased

you and hit you with brooms

at Courir de Mardi Gras.

But then The Big One came and washed

us all away to Memphis, Dallas, Asheville

and even all the way to New York,

scattered from our ribbon cane murmurs

and confidences, our laughter and

complacence. Washed away, never

to return the same again.

2013

Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 5

Tcoupitoulas St, New Orleans, 2008
Tcoupitoulas St, New Orleans, 2008

In rememberance of lives lost and lives forever changed due to the Federal levee breach in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’ll be posting poems and short essays I’ve written over the past 10 years through August 29.

Never forget.

*****

Survivors August

It’s August in New Orleans and autumn seems as far away as Australia. Forget the dogs, these are the cat days of summer at my house. The yard cats lie around making barely a bump in the languid landscape. They watch as I perform my gardening snips and sweeps with eyes both exhausted and persnickity as though I alone were responsible for their unwelcome malaise.

August and September are the months I dread the most. They’re the hottest and most humid months in a city that’s often hot and humid and they are the most likely months to host hurricanes, with September 10 being the peak of the season. Although we New Orleanians bitch and moan about the humidity and heat we are a stalwart clan so we slog through these wretched months the only way we know how: dancin’, drinkin’ and singin’. We go to Satchmo Fest early to get seats under the tents and the oaks and settle in for an afternoon of lawn chair bump-and-grind while keeping a firm grasp on our Abita’s. We run, walk and stagger through The Red Dress Run employing veteran strategies for making it all the way to the end without heat stroke. We reel in the best live music in the world at The Maple Leaf and Tipitina’s, stepping out to catch a cool river breeze when bodies get too sweaty and the air too electric.

In these ways, and others, we mark off the days of August and occupy ourselves so as not to dwell too long on the date that sends prickles up our spines. For those of us living in New Orleans in 2005, memories of a rushed and nerve-wracking evacuation followed by anxiety ridden weeks of an enforced exile loom larger each day that brings us closer to the 29th day. Thoughts of the fetid flood waters that drowned our city and took the lives of our loved ones and neighbors come at unexpected moments throughout the year while shopping at Rouses or on Magazine Street or as we sit in our courtyards and on our porches watching the sun set over the city we love so much. The memories come hard and fast during August and they still make the heart pound and the ears ring.

Our collective experience of the hours before and the months after the levees broke bind us together in a unique way that only a catastrophic event can do. We may have returned to a certain complacency about some things in the nine years since Katrina but we will never forget the price that was paid nor lose the bond that was formed in the aftermath.

2014

Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 4

Hollygrove, New Orleans, 2010
Hollygrove, New Orleans, 2010

Photo by Geovanni Velasquez for NOLAFemmes

In rememberance of lives lost and lives forever changed due to the Federal levee breach in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’ll be posting poems and short essays I’ve written over the past 10 years through August 29.

Never forget.

Sorrows and Secrets

The sky hangs low bloated

with water waiting to fall.

It hovers like ambiguity.

The river parts it’s waves as crow’s

wings part the air, accepting sorrows

and secrets nestled sweetly

in its belly, lifted from the shoulders

of the disheartened who spill

uncertainty into her accepting oblivion.

Gulls glide overhead riding currents

from peregrine places, they appear

as check marks in sharp relief slicing

holes in the clouds offering escape

to weary travelers leaving

their entire world behind.

Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 3

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Gentilly, New Orleans, November 2005

Photo by Infrogmation

Broken City 2006

I’ve always liked  the fog. The ambiance of mystery…….muted sounds, glimpses of shapes that morph into creatures of the imagination, the feeling of still isolation. But today was the fourth day of driving through a fog that only  became denser as I approached the upward slant to the bridge over the Mississippi. Crossing the bridge was surreal, as though driving into the gaping mouth of something not-of-this-earth. I could see absolutely nothing except the tail lights of a few cars directly in front of me, the sides of the bridge going up into a cloud and the glowing coronas of the streetlights melting into each other like bits of ectoplasm as I slowly passed them one by one. We were three lanes of mindless machines driving into the mouth of the beast, our muffled engines growling like a cat cornered. I felt light-headed and a bit disoriented in the mist swirling all around as if the river itself was exhaling a long-held breath upward mingling with the glowering clouds over our heads and us in between, caught in a mist laden purgatory.

On the other side I exited, driving along the river where a fire truck rolled through the streets rushing to yet another fire, it’s siren wailing thinly through the dampness. I passed a FEMA trailer park looking like a field of ghostly tombs sheltering stripped-away lives on hold for who knew how long. On each side of the street weeks old piles of storm debris and rotting garbage lumbered in and out of view – monsters of the sort that suck the endurance out of a people stretched thin with making do. We were all in a purgatory of sufferance then that can’t be explained or described. The fog of the last few days was only temporary and would eventually lift. The purgatory of the storm would hold us in its’ grip for months to come.

Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 2

Irish Bayou, New Orleans, February 2006
Irish Bayou, New Orleans, February 2006

 Photo by Infrogmation

In rememberance of lives lost and lives forever changed due to the Federal levee breach in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’ll be posting poems and short essays I’ve written over the past 10 years through August 29.

Never forget.

Birdless
We watched for the return of the birds.
The air around the house
was silent
and devoid of flutterings,
a vacuum of tweets and
whistles. What stragglingh
flowers were left went
hummingbirdless while
twigs and string were
just
twigs and string
with no hope of sheltering
featherless offspring.

It was strangely quiet,
as though they were all
sucked into a void
somewhere and became
dinosaurs again in
another dimension.
They were a wondrous
memory for a time until
slowly finding their way
back home.

Seven Days of Rememberance: Day 1

Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, December 2005
Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, September 2005

Photo by Infrogmation

In rememberance of lives lost and lives forever changed due to the Federal levee breach in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’ll be posting poems and short essays I’ve written over the past 10 years through August 29.

Never forget.

*****

Disparity

In that house red beans & rice
cooked every Monday for four
generations until the water
washed it away.
It floated down Forgotten Street,
clapboards splintering like frail old
bones in the jaws of the beast.
The land where it stood’s going on
five years empty now, sacred ground
bleached with the salt of bitter tears
but still loved with a fierceness that
would amaze the unbaptized.

2010

*****

“Disparity” was published in St. Somewhere – A Literary Journal, June 2011

Hot Reads 8.22.15

It’s August. A month of heat, humidity, and irritable moodiness in the South. On top of that, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up and it’s all over the news, all over social media and just everywhere I turn. I am not looking forward to next week. I lived through it and I don’t want to relive it, thank you. I’ll leave it to the politicians and philosophers to “celebrate” how far we’ve come but I’ll be keeping my head down and looking forward to September.

Here’s a little list of what I’ve been reading lately:

Aubrey Hirsch humorously muses about new dads suddenly understanding feminism after the birth of their daughters in her  satirical essay “Abandoning Feminism” in The Toast.  It strikes a nerve while also poking a little fun: “I look at my beautiful, silly, amazing boys and I realize that they do deserve to be paid more than their female counterparts in the workforce. They have both X and Y chromosomes and should be compensated accordingly.”

The recent issue of Blue Five Notebook/Blue Fifth Review is really good and I especially loved the flash piece, “A Glacier is a River Frozen in Time” by Eileen Merriman. Have you ever thought about a world without color? Read this. (Scroll down to find it but definitely read everything else, too.)

You know I couldn’t have a Hot Reads post without a Lidia Yuknavitch reference. Recently I had a Twitter convo with Sarah Galo after she read my post about Lidia’s memoir which then led me to Sarah’s review of Lidia’s new book,The Small Backs of Children in Electric Lit. Then (through her Twitter profile) I discovered Sarah’s “Tiny Letters” mailing list. I subscribed and I enjoy and recommend it.

In Literary Orphans is a piece by Christopher Allen called “The Ground Above My Feet” written with a quirky humor but with an unexpected twist at the end. Do read it.

Poetry that knocked my flip-flops off:

I planned to write more but I think I have some spyware on my PC since the curser is dancing around of its own accord so I’ll cut this short and go to war. Have a happy reading week and here’s a little something to give you a chuckle. xoxo

image

Inspiration Monday

Because it’s the day of the week we need it most….

The Society of St. Anne, Fat Tuesday, New Orleans
The Society of St. Anne, Fat Tuesday, New Orleans

“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.” ~ Joan Didion

Lidia on Vimeo

Well, isn’t this fortuitous. A Twitter friend tweeted this Vimeo this morning so I, of course, had to watch immediately, fan girl that I am. It’s the first chapter of Lidia Yuknavitch’s new book, The Small Backs of Children, read by a group of writers and produced and created by Meg Tuite and Ken Robidoux for Crazy Rabbit Review on Connotation Press. It’s a great sampling of Lidia’s writing so get on over there and dig in.

DOnt ya love it when you discover a writer that excites you?