Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans Poets

In any of you have heard from one of these poets, please chime in.

Nancy HarrisDave Brinks, Megan Burns and familyStan BeamisJimmy NolanBeverly Rainbolt & familyJohn Gery & Biljana Obradovic & familyLee GrueKay MurphyNiyi OsundareHank Lazer Brenda Marie Osbey Maxine & Joe CassinLorenzo Thomas Bill LavenderJoel Dailey Rodger KamenetzJerome Rothenberg David ShapiroYictoveAndrei CodrescuAndi YoungJohn Travis & familyKatherine SoniatGrace BauerJulie KaneKalamu ya SalaamKysha BrownCamille MartinRalph Adamo & familyBrad Richard Peter CooleyJohn SinclairTom WhalenAlex RawlsGina Ferrara & family

This comes from a blog I already forgot the name of.

Disaster means 'bad star' in Greek

I have read with interest some responses to the description of the Katrina damage. Although I am most concerned emotionally with New Orleans, I do think that it has been over-represented in the news. Slidell, LA, which took a direct hit and is underwater--has hardly been touched on.

It bothers me to hear people say "Hiroshima" and "the tsunami" because those are obviously unfair comparisons. However, in defense of the people who may have blurted out those comparisons, I think they are just searching for words, which we all know are inadequate. I mean, New Orleans is underwater--thousands of people are dead and are going to die--in plain view of the news media--I can understand a bit of drama.

I have been staring at these images for two days now, and it still hasn't sunk in yet. People's histories are gone. People are displaced and I fear many will never return. Forgive me for touching on Cajun culture, but the language is dying, the elders are dying, and now part of the way of life has beed destroyed. And the Cajuns are only one of many cultures directly impacted by this event/disaster/ whatever you name it.

People are really scared

Katrina Continued

My father-in-law was able to make it to my home to check it and report on the damage. The cats are alive, and he let them out. My house is heavily damaged and uninhaitable. Trees down everywhere. There is a large hole through the roof and ran in the den/playroom area. The corner or back wall--I didn't quite get him--was crushed and open to outside. That hole is how they got into the house. Inside is wet, but not flooded, from the rain. Bryan will try to get back and get a few things. We are really lucky though, because the structure is redeemable. Almost a million people are in far grave situations.

New Orleans is chaos--I am sure everyone has seen this on the news. Thousands feared dead, and thousands may die if not lifted out.

For those trying to reach th Folsom area--they have no electricity, phones. Cell phones are out. My father-in-law drove to Hammond and called from a land line. He will call everyday before noon, he said, and I will post anything new that I know.

I fear for New Orleans--I just don't see how we will recover. No economy, no jobs, no money. . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Things They Carried

When I packed my car to evacuate for this hurricane, I was really just going through the motions. I've done this so many times before, it's easy to be rote about it. I dumped in the kids' albuterol and breathing machine in case of bronchiolitis. I tossed in the albums of their pre-digital camera baby pictures, a cross my father used to wear, the Mignon Faget necklace I got on my first Mother's Day (white seed pearls with tiny gold beads and a gold-flecked venetian glass pendant in the shape of a heart), my laptop, a few books, three books for the kids, pillows, some clothing, one par of pajamas each, matcbox cars and lincoln logs, a few costume pieces for the kids to play dress up. I was wearing flip flops, and those are the only shoes I have with me. I forgot Sam's new shoes. I forgot to bring stuffed animals, insurance papers, a picture of m great-grandmother in drag, long pants for any of the kids. I only left out a few days of food for my cats. I didn't bring a toothbrush or a pen. I didn't put tape over the windows or cover the new sofa, or try to move furniture over the windows. I just left. I even left Bryan at home, in case the storm turned, because he is no fan of evacuation. I didn't mail any of my bills or the printer ready proof of my chapbook. I didn't water the orchids. I didn't do any of the things you might do when seing someplace for the last time. I didn't even look back.

Refugee Diary

Still in Cleveland, MS. I was all prepared to be a snob about this place, but every citizen has been exceedingly nice. Examples--a woman at Krogers let us use her discount card because some of the items we were buying were on special for members. The Baptist church put signs up all over the hotel inviting the Katrina refugees to a catfish dinner in their parish hall.

The lobby of this hotel is filled with people from all over New Orleans. Each has a terribly sad story. Many elderly, including one man from Chalmette whose home is under thirteen feet of water. He says he is too old to rebuild. Many people, like us, have small children with them, and they have the strange and difficcult job of entertainging children in a cramped nervous space. We have been swimming several times, tyring to make up ganes with the other kids, make everything seem ok, but look around and it's very sad.

There are pets looking out of some of the hotel windows. There are cars packed down with ice chests, pillows, and atlases. The lobby is constantly busy with people chatting, trying to use each other's cell phones, and constantly watching the news on a big screen TV. We are almost unaffected by these images because of the shock of them. The news is everywhere--echoing in the hall. And in the rooms also, where people with laptops troll the message boards for news of pecific neighborhoods, specific streets. Then we pass the news along. It is never good. This evening I heard that my neighborhood was "devastated" by trees--with large pines, sometimes tw or three, crashing through the living room. I'm afraid to know anything else, but still, I keep looking.

Katrina Refugee

Well, I never thought I'd be a refugee, but here I am in Cleveland Mississippi with no idea about home, people left at home, cats left at home, etc. New Orleans is nearly 100 flooded. The eyewall of thhe storm passed very close to me in Mandeville--all communication there is lost, so we have no idea what we'll be going home to. I've heard rumors that flooding in Mandeville was minimal, wind damage (read--pine trees) extensive. News coverage not too helpful--it's just showing flyovers of metropolitan New Orleans. At this point, I'm just hoping that one member of the family has at least a structure to return to, but I'm out of touch with everyone--no phone service, or the lines are busy.

Good news--my kids are safe, mom and husby are safe. We have also managed to locate a generator.

If anybody hears anything about Mandeville, Covington, or St. Tammany Parish, pleas post a comment.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sad Sad Sad

I am so incredibly sad today. My friend's son has died. I can't even believe that I just wrote that out, because it seems so intimate and so private. If . . . If . . . If . . . I want her to be ok, but I think she will never be ok. This mother grief is the scariest monster to think about. I don't know what to do or say. Whatever you believe, believe it for her, for them, and most of all for that sweet, sweet boy.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This Is Their Penis and This Is Their Butt

Today I brought the kids to the children's museum and we all had the blast. I believe this one in New Orleans is supposed to be the best--it's a great, huge space. Ben wants to have his B-day party there (you can rent rooms, or the whole place after hours). For them, the best exhibit wat the mini-port of New Orleans where they drove a tugboat and an ocean liner, go to look under the Mississippi River Bridge, load and unload a barge of freight, and toot the very loud horn lots of times. For me the best part was the Things to do with lines exhibit where the kids made sculptures by fitting pool noodles into holes, and drew with light. They also had a blast wearing ensembles from the costume box.

After that we had a City Park picnic (in the back of the car because Ben is afraid of thunder). We had to eat gas station food and ham, because for some reason I only put grapes and drinks in the ice chest. We saw the antique train and walked down to the sculpture garden--if ever in New Orleans you must stop there. The kids loved this huge bronze spider, but they loved the nudes most of all. They were standing with a group of larger than life nude running men (the men look like they're wearing mask from Greek stage) saying over and over again, loudly: THIS IS THEIR PENIS AND THIS IS THEIR BUTT. A Buddhist monk took their picture. I hope he remembers us, because now that I have written it down, I will remember him.

Slave to the Couch

Where have I been? What have I been up to? Well, I can assure you none of it is poetry related. We got a new sectional sofa and I have been babysiting it--keeping it dog free, and children with food and markers free. That in itslef is a full time job. I also have been shopping out of catalogues. (This is a new obsession of mine--buying Christmas presents in the summertime.)

I finished (?) my next book of poetry. I've been working on my syllabus. I read "That Is No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy, which was outstanding. I'm tryting to clean out my files (a joke).

As the summer ends, I've been taking the kids everywhere--to the zoo, the aquarium, and today to the Children's Museum for art time. We've also been going to slash around in the Mandeville fountain at the trailhead, across from the firestation and down the street from the library. My kids have been reading about bugs all summer, specifically flies, mosquitoes, and maggots. Ben wrote his name, a milestone considering his hand surgery in December.