Tuesday, December 27, 2005

120. My City Was Gone

by Sharon E. Chester - Slidell, Louisiana

The storm came
with a name
and a premonition
but we didn't listen, right away
cat 4, cat 5

And we ran so hard and fast
that our gas tanks, if not our lungs
were gasping

And at every stop I looked around
and recited my list of belongings -
a mantra that offered no comfort:
1 pair of jeans, 4 shirts, 2 socks,
girlfriend, car,
and one very old cat we refused
to leave behind

And when we stopped for 3 days
and flipped on the news
I sat there with my soul coming undone
as I watched my city fall apart,
and I watched my people die

Now you look at me and see
a white girl bearing no resemblence
to who you see on tv
waiting, trying and dying
for the government to end its vacation
to bring help and salvation
but we are the same, these people
and me

In my state there is a kinship.
If you're on the road and meet someone
from home
you hug like old friends
like family
because you share this dark secret
in your blood.
It flows like water, smells like salt
and clangs like The Rebirth Brass Band
upon recognition.

There is no reason
that I'm not waiting on a rooftop.
There is no reason
I'm not wading through the water
I called home.
And really, there's no reason at all,
though I keep searching for it.

And songs keep spiraling
through my brain
taunting me with repetition
and baiting me with their hooks...
The Pretenders echo, with the lyrics changed:

I went back to New Orleans
and my city was gone.

Hellicane category: SURVIVORS' Tales

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is Samoa. I was so happy to read your poem. It is so beautiful and means so much for me to read it. I feel so close to it. Please IM me or Matt sometime. We miss you and Courtney!