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Posted by : cj on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - 11:45 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name You can add a poem to this page if you are logged in by using the comments function below, or also by sending your poetry by email to chicagopoetry@chicagopoetry.com.

Ugly Day
by CJ Laity

Goodbye, New Orleans, goodbye
Salad bowl of jazzy beats and glittering beads
Turned to toilet bowl of raw sewage and contaminated grease
Displacement, place of national disgrace
Take to your roofs; the dark cloud is upon you
Now you know where freedom's priorities reside
Help is on the way, but not necessarily today
All tied up in oil lies, watch the prices rise
Superman's cape has been stripped inch by inch
By the caustic breath of your elected officials
Are you seeing red yet, through the red tape, Red state
When the levy breaks and only the rich survive
It's coming for you too, wherever you are
Coming like that dream you can't escape
Casting its shadow on your children
Too short to reach the rising surface
Death floating, bloated, how can we possibly smell it
When our nose is stuck deep in someone's butt overseas
The losers of the liberty-game are boiling in the stew
Goodbye, Mardi Gras, the ghetto blood is upon you
Dancing queen drag your way to the Astrodome
The parade is coming to the Southside in pickup trucks
Chased from 89th by gators and Lake Pontchartrain
Great Ugly Day, your tears deluge the living rooms
And the refugees are living on the overpass
Waving the shirts off their backs in utter despair
Fats Domino flying away in his black hawk copter
And they say the wicked season is only half over
Do not blame it on anything named Katrina
The evangelical Bozo saw it in the cards
Grabbed the remote and flicked on Jerry Springer
The pump maintenance more trouble than an exodus
The riff raff views the French Quarter from his window
It fogs up as he spouts his own torrent of righteousness
Arrest them; shoot them, the wild animals run rampant
Drown them in their attics, so we can gentrify
Strangle the Big Easy with speech-writers, buying a little time
Freak of mother flooder dealt with after he bagged the putter
Goodbye infrastructure your cowboy junky failed you
Flew over in his airplane and blew you a little kiss
Chalked up and knocked the sun into the corner pocket
Too late to pass a measure on the dry land of Congress
Should have would have could have--but didn't
Birth of a curse, Miss America's water just broke
The dark cloud of indifference is upon you, Louisiana
Don't feel bad it's nothing but a class thing
It was your choice after all to remain underprivileged
So you did not see the muted message on high priced TV
Why didn't you pray for a magic bus meant only for the deprived
Oh merciful God, why didn't you teach them how to swim
Hyatt Regency, open your doors to the forsaken
Who can't go home to their Popsicle sticks and Tonka Toys
Start another war, divert attention from our gore
Sound bytes trivialize overpriced plywood card houses
Do not dare speak the words global warming
Compare it to nine-eleven, that always works wonders
The ocean hijacked the Gulf Coast with a rotary saw
Turned up the oven and the people in the pot roasted
We would all empathize but we've forgotten how to cry
We'll have a rock concert instead, a week from Friday
But unfortunately by then you'll all be long gone
So goodbye, New Orleans,

--C. J. Laity
September 2, 2005

When Katrina came to shore

As the weekend approached there came the warning – a hurricane on the way was spawning, The Witch was strengthened by the wind and sun while folks were having tons of fun. Laying on beaches, eating greens, somewhere down in New Orleans. Katrina eased in from the bed of the sea, while thoughts that there could never be - another big catastrophe.

The meteorologists said “Category four!” as Katrina approached the southern shore. No sirens screamed “Evacuate!” for all the poor it would be too late. The well to – do packed up and went, while collecting next months due and rent. Gas too high for most to leave, No one could ever yet believe, the destruction that this “Witch” would weave!

It seemed as if it was in the plan that a higher power said that “man” would almost heed warnings in the Pan-handle - forevermore. That is until Katrina reached the shore. Two hundred years had never seen a hurricane so strong and mean - until this Witch came on the scene.

They could have sent in troops and such, two days before the storm became too much. But Homeland Security deemed it “apropos” That blacks had other places they could go. I think that FEMA means “forget every minority anyway”

Katrina descended from the sky and at early dawn she cast her wicked eye on land below the level sea. Like a scorned woman on those who could not flee, she wrapped her arms around house and home, tore the roof from atop the Silverdome or whatever it’s called in Rome! Her intestines hot, she got everything without a shot being fired.

Unlike seventy-nine years before, when her sister performed like a frantic’ whore, there was no property galore to destroy. Her lips kissed Biloxi with a toxic breath, biting and binging starvation, even death. That is- When Katrina came to the shore.

There was chaos, ghetto style, for she only stayed a little while before kicking the sun as it began to smile on Mississippi. She showed her behind so that you would find no respect or peace of mind. From Mobile to Clarksdale you could hear the dying wail amidst the stale stench of the open sore. Yeah, that was when Katrina crept quietly into the shore!

Now relations mourn having been torn with the scorn of a terrorist that no one could tame. Meteorologists gave her the name – “Katrina”. More destruction in a day than let’s say, Atom bombs away! Billions of dollars went astray to Iraq and Afghanistan. Food and supplies being trucked to all the people that were not plucked from the rooftops, Some lucked out and we’re glad that we ducked a Katrina, Katrina, more than happy that she’s gone, hopefully forevermore, never to embrace us like she did before. And we’ll remember the morning when Katrina came to shore.

Oh Katrina!

They walked blindly toward the bridge, the elevated span that tottered above the floodwaters. Babies in arm to keep them from harm, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. There were tears helping to fill the basin where Katrina had laid final destruction, On the highway bridge were thousands of others waiting to be rescued or perish, their clothing torn and tattered from wading in the waist high putrid water, where bodies of neighbors floated endlessly. It seems that New Orleans the city of dreams had now become the reality of nightmares. Before the levy flatulated her structure onto the streets, reporters were in the hotel listening to a jazz band, Katrina had tiptoed through the dawn on a Monday morn. Born a few hundred miles southeast she spawned her fury into a bad dream. There was no water to drink, spirits had begun to sink into oblivion and to think that ethnicity was not a factor. Without electricity the city had no light to show the blight that Katrina left behind. Miles of houses destroyed. Hospitals emergency generators were underwater. Operations ceased. A baby survived! Reunited with mother and father these tears were of joy. The magnitude of fear was almost automatic as many perished in an attic, one could not be more emphatic than the observers that stood on higher ground, having found refuge for a minute. Amidst the wailing you could hear a languishing scream, “Oh Katrina!” the silence permeated the following nights without lights neighbors starting food fights or who had the rights to non-perishable goods from the K-Mart. Broken hearts intermittently pierced the now clear sky as gunfire erupted out of frustration. City officials committed suicide. Two hundred policemen retired to who knows where, frustrated that they could do nothing to help. I can still hear some of them whisper, “Oh Katrina!” Relatives from forty – six state heeded the clarion call so that this Fall their kids would have a bed to sleep in and a school to attend while Homeland Security tries to defend- “What?” Katrina woke a lot of sleeping politicians that just didn’t care that catastrophe could happen anywhere! Sleep on my brothers! One day you’ll wake up in the middle of the bed that Katrina made and there will be no aid for you. Meanwhile you smile and appoint another Supreme that will tour the scene from Mississippi to New Orleans. And say “Oh Katrina!. Oh Katrina”

Written September 5th 2005 by Arthur Holland Sr.

New Orleans
By Tatiana Pahlen

Immorality? What is it?
Can you define the desire of
a human-being in a desperate bid
chosen to endure depression?

Save your bullet, shooter,
Poor, needing bread, crazed from hunger.
Don't call him a looter, his son is dead,
He is scoring comfort.

Life has changed since Katrina the Great
Acquired his quarters;
Nothing left, but stale, old debts
of a once homeowner.

The city is quiet; the toll of the dead
tripled ground zero —
A vicious blow leveled New Orleans' land;
Her jazz bands not spared.

When nature is maddened, whose to blame
Andrew, Francis, Charley,
Ivan the Terrible, Katrina the Great?
It's time for all to repent!

September 6, 2005

Another disaster, more questions about what happen , look how you acting, they Americans aint they, but your lack of concern seem blatant, know New Orleans need help so why you waiting, four days later, if you would've showed up in NY , four days later, you would've got your walking papers, four days later. On TV talking about looting and raping,talking about shooting these people for what they taking, you're insensitive and racist , plain wrong so let's face this, people dying, starving and crying, you on TV lying about how you trying , pro athletes doing more than you , cater to then sheiks is all you do, commander and chief , I smell something and it reeks,we aint refugee , Americans are in need, they bleed like you bleed ,still can't find osams , call the army back find that black girls Mama, all them troops over there when American people got problems, we got drama, we need food , you on CNN only helps you, when katrina ends it only helps you, getting paid off gas prices, when black bodies laying dead lifeless, and you want us to trust you despite this , I believe you're smiling and you like this, that's why I give it to you straight like this, a freedom fighters ,thats why I fight straight like this, CHicago rider, that's why I ride straight like this, Martin would like this ,another prophet , that's why you frightened, and that's why I keep writing, STRAIGHT LIKE THIS!!!!!




by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

you keep blowin' me down
you keep bloooowin' me down
you keep blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me

what do you say
to houses
flooded to the rafters
with water

what do you say
to the levee
that didn't
have to break

what do you say
to 10,000 bodies
huddled in a cracking

what do you say
to someone
who has lost everything

what do you say
to people on the
brink on the edge

what do you say
to your four
days of negligence

what do you say
to hands breaking glass
to shake the last
from the stores

what do you say
to missing mothers,
missing grandfathers,
missing fiances, missing
kids locked up

what do you say
to the operators
who saw the cracks
in the wall
or the meteorologists
who tracked the hurricane
on her path

what do you say
to this
the richest country
in the world

and the bowl
of new orleans
which is now
a distant memory
of the past

what do you say
to soldiers with
shoot to kill

or how was
your vacation

and no, Bush
we didn't see
you fumble
your fingers
over that phone

what would you say
if this were
or Martha's Vineyard
Camp David
or Palm Springs

what if it were
these people
who learned
what it is
to taste a flood

what if this were
the gates of Parliament
a G8 meeting or another
summit for the WTO

there's always enough

to prepare the
soldiers in riot

to bash protestors
and lace them in plastic
handcuffs, keep them
overnight, so many
stuffed to a cell

to make them lick blood
welling on their tongues

there's always enough

for the cops in
South Central
North Lawndale
or Dorchester

oh yes, that's right
Mr. Goverment

i forget

it is always
we the people
who continue
to kill ourselves

i wanna see how you
will try to blame this
on us

what dirt you will dig
what information you will smother
what resisters you will drive into the

we, the country
the most rich
the most free

a natural disaster
in our miseries

what will you do
for the bodies
over their heads
in water

gasping for breath

as you count our dollars
planning to sacrifice
our sons and daughters
for oil

you keep blowin' me down

you keep bloooowin' me down

you keep blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me

The American Dream
by Sandra Goldsmith

Generations ago
some sailed here in steerage,
fled potato famine and pogroms,
crossed the plank in bewildered triumph,
determination in the set of their collective jaw,
a universal feature on the myriad faces of Europe,
softening gradually over generations,
then disappearing with other discards
in the presence of complacency.

Later on
Asians fled their meager existence,
rowed their own boats,
their small arms developing sinewy muscle
strengthened to gargantuan size
to match their courage,
their dreams of a good life buoying them
to our generous shores.

Last week
I claimed a seat at the airport boarding gate,
waited with fellow travelers whose set jaws
mirrored my own impatient resignation
as we relinquished control to air-traffic control,
all of us far removed, by choice,
from the unique contour of our mattress,
the focused light from our reading lamp,
the perfect bulge in our pillow --

while a TV screen showed Katrina displacing people
who trusted in the powers above,
people who had no choice
but to sit upon their rooftops as the decimation
washed over them and under them,
their lives trickling slowly and completely
down to running water
that no one in power could turn off.

And no one could have predicted
they would then be lowered to shelters of filth,
meals of grime,
becoming mired in the lethargy surrounding them,
the American dream all but dead, it seemed,
until our true Americans came to the fore,
the many
embracing the plight of the have-nots,
suspending their own lives,
helpers from every corner,
some whose muscles were toned from day labor,
others from health-club workouts,
some with credentials of note,
others with simple decency etched across their brows,
all donning their denims and t-shirts and humble heritage
in one collective motion
-- to fend for the lives of those strangers
drifting toward invisibility and inconsequence --
and to display across broad backs
the message that America unites
to care for its own.


And again,-
Grief and tears, and death.
Oh my God, is that Destiny
of those who had dreams
To live and to serve,
But deserved only weeping
And the pains in the hearts,
Now more stern,
More compassionate
And more affectionate,
More responsive,
Ready to mark
That one more
On-the-heart scar?
What's the reason,
The fault or the sin
Of all those,
Those who liked the seasons
And roses,
Who were born just to win,
But the waters and winds
Have deprived them of lives?
I read
the prayer
of cries,
My heart dies.

Ivan Petryshyn 09/20/05 Chicago 19:48

six days late
by Larry Winfield

you locked 'em in and let 'em rot for five days,
who knew you could use FEMA to keep help away...
you've finally graduated
from President Lionel Hutz
to third world Emperor
(can't call you what i'd like,
cause it's your n-word
and makes you get all blood in the face. yavoll!)

you've just become Baby Doc and Mobutu,
become the worst combination of
Nixon, Harding, and Andrew Jackson -
strumming that guitar,
a Texas Nero still on vacation.
and what about your pirate band?
Condi can't be bothered,
she's painting the big apple red,
Cheney's away at a secluded spot
getting his light saber readjusted...
Rove is back in the shadows, spinning...

you can tell me...
it was a business decision, wasn't it?
an impulsive stroke of short term genius,
icing on the vacation cake
to take the taste of Cindy Sheehan's
anger and grief
out of your mouth...
let's let mother nature do over here
what Mugabe's doing to his shanty towns -
clearing brush.
and hey, rumors of looting darkies works for us...
Osama must be laughing -
these guys are doing a better job
than any Al Quida sleeper cell...

some of your smirking
repent america
christian patriot rapture rangers
no doubt smiled at the spectacle;
"when the rapture comes,
all you heathens will be just like that..."
uh huh...and god is a klansman, right?
this ain't the apocalypse, you sheep's clothing Jesus-boys,
merely incompetence of biblical proportions.

hope you enjoy the ride,
cause hey, the jig is up:
the drive-by photo-ops will no longer do,
the webs you've been spinning obscured your view
and when Fox starts kicking your ass,
you oughta get a clue!
but then,
you lied us into a war you're fighting on the cheap;
an expensive campaign
where parents scrape together
to buy their kids' body armor...
why wouldn't the cavalry be half-assed and late.
but thanks for giving all us locals a heads up:
we can't depend on you at all
if the crap hits the fan wherever 'right here' is.
unless you're a card-carrying member of the country club.

hey, numbnuts!
your vacation is over,
your next two as well -
as the recession ripples slowly fan out,
as things get more expensive and may start to run out
as the military is slowly burned out,
as we follow the Soviets into a slow collapse...
if the rabble gets too uppity,
you can always declare martial law
but whose troops would you use...
Hey, China holds our busted IOU's,
and they believe in profits now...
they'll do.

--Larry Winfield

I Hear
by Constance Vogel

the old man calling "Hello Mama"
from a bench on Poydras St
when the grass is still dewy in the morning,
the French woman saying, This hat is you,
as she holds out a pink cartwheel
with lace and tulle,
the trumpet pumping from Preservation Hall
and Sweet Emma playing "I'll Fly Away,"

the motor boats grinding
down flooded city streets with signs that say
Gone To Texas,
thin dry voices lamenting from concrete crypts
what has happened
to their city of dreams,

and the brass band playing
down St. Charles Av
a slow and mournful dirge for New Orleans
with that always hopeful riff at the end.

--Constance Vogel

Note: Chicago poets write about the tragedy. Now includes work by Laity, Redstorm, Larry Winfield, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Arthur Holland, Donna Pecore, Contance Vogel, Kathy Kubik, Sandra Goldsmith, Charlie Rossiter and more. Now includes a speech by Senator John Kerry.

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