Tag Archives: Gentilly

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Beneath the rust and the gray toxic dust
left behind when the water went down
past the edge of the Quarter’s bright lights and disorder
there’s nothing much left to this town

Maybe the Crescent City was never too pretty
for more than three blocks in a row,
but it made our lives fuller, regardless of color,
and now it’s someplace no one else can know.

You may know what it means to miss New Orleans
from a Mardi Gras record or two
but what’s gone’s gone forever; rebuilding will never
bring back Nawlins rhythm or blues.

‘Cause the heart of this city is broken in two
where the levees burst that afternoon;
and the warm welcome mat that asked “Hey, where ya’t?”
won’t be back again any time soon.

All the grand old traditions, corrupt politicians,
the trash tourists leave every year,
they’re all gone, or in trouble, buried in the rubble
that may take a lifetime to clear.

What they bring back will not be
New Orleans, not to me;
the places they’ve saved just are not
more than pretty postcards
of wrought iron and front yards:
ghosts of the town that care forgot.

08 DEC 2005

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Kali and Shiva

A single shelf sits untouched by the rubble,
its contents unmolested by the storm;
while mold grows from the walls like razor stubble,
and walls and ceilings crumble beyond form.

Below, the room is nothing but destruction,
appliances and desks upturned and smashed,
displaced and wretched by the flood water’s suction,
strewn through the house and turned to worthless trash.


Along the ceiling molding where it crested,
a gray mud line demarks the surge’s path;
yet that shelf seems pristine, and calm and rested,
quite unaffected by Katrina’s bath.

On that shelf? Kali and Shiva, destroyers,
look out into the chaos of the foyer.

08 OCT 2005

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Morning on the Levee

Along the edge of the levee,
atop the slow hill slanting up
against the bank of the canal

there is a worn down path of grass
that leads from just nearby my house
to where the water meets the lake.

This morning, feeling rather bold
I took a detour down this track
just to see how long it would take

to walk its winding way, and back.
It took nearly a whole hour,
and left me tired, but not vanquished.

And to see the waves crashing there
against the rim of reclaimed land,
watching seagulls float in the wind

as the sun tried to break its way
through the thick, gray morning rain clouds,
made the trip worth the traveling.

12 OCT 2003

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The Crepe Myrtle

To see the stump there in the yard,
Its edges barely higher than the grass,
You’d never know the tree that made
A stand in that spot for so long.

You might, when seeing flowered sprouts
From that dead trunk, imagine it;
But unless you’d seen it growing,
For you there would not be much tree.

Imagining is not knowing.

To know, you’d have to see the way
It stood, for years, attempting height,
Pushing its branches to the wires
That crossed the lawn from street to house;

And one time, just to keep it free
From in the electricity
A man had come with a ladder
To amputate its reaching arms.

But it was already half dead,
Thanks to the efforts of a boy
Who’d swung a cruel baseball bat
Straight at its chest some time ago.

And though it bravely put out blooms
In spring and then again in fall
The termites finished up the job
And hollowed it, primed it to fall.

And then, the hurricane rolled in.
Although I could have with a push
Snapped its rotted wood, I did not.

It was the wind that brought it down,
With a loud crack, right where the car
Might have been, had we not pulled
It off the drive, safe from the rain.

I had to saw it up and lay
The pieces by the curb as trash,
Shave the split stump down to the ground
And stuff the hole left with spare sod.

Sure, it was dying, or near dead,
But it made a nice bit of shade
Against the kitchen windows,
And colored our bit of front lawn
With bright fuschia-colored blossoms.

Next to the old stump, a young tree
Is growing; we planted it there
A spring ago. It will not shade
Us all that soon, but when it does
We will have a far greater need:
For as it, like the myrtle did,
Reaches out to touch the bright sky
We will be slowing down and old.

It will be quite nice to sit down
In the shadow of that dogwood,
And remember the crepe myrtle.

23 AUG 2003

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