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tearing the rag off the bush again
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Epigraphs Written Above Water

my past is a field of sleepwalking majorettes
too poor to buy white boots

—Frank Stanford

Past high water marks, past wildest conjecture
—Sterling A. Brown

You feel like skipping
But the costume
Wants a more processional step

Three days of rain,
not Biblical
But more than this ground
Could take

Standing water everywhere

—Lorenzo Thomas

Blue Tarp

The magnificent sight
of the city rising
“Lake Ponchartrain is just too damn big”
As we circle
the shining path of water

We descend
over the neighborhoods
reaching for signs of damage
The first color of something amiss

Those vivid blue tarps are not
Swimming pools

They are
patching big ass holes
where the rain came in and in and inundated
the insides of the houses
and Washed around inside
like a big mold-bearing washing machine
now gutted

My mind jumps
to another part of the south

Dale Earnhart fans knew something
was wrong
when they covered car
Number 3

with the blue tarp
that spelled troubled

Fairy in a teacup

on royal street
somehow survives this tiny
porcelain being
comfortably curled
in a teacup
on display
her delicate limbs
just fit against the cool curve



My First Floats

Great skulls and crossbones
Disorienting in their grandeur

Pink flesh of Nausica

The Suitors of Circe transformed
into huge Swine


“Chocolate City” Mayor
dangling a huge
Hershey’s kiss

DEMA Olympics event:
Refrigerator Hurling

The Big Queasy
A paper maché depiction of
A huge vomit stream

The 17th Street breach filled with tears

Kids watch perched
on ingenious wooden carts
bolted atop tall ladders

Item on menu of Coffee Pot Restaurant:
FEMA special
$795 a piece


Aftermath Blues

Waiting for the other cup to drop
In the Café du Monde
None of your trusted servers are available
Would you care to join me

Blank to think the blues came here
After great pain a formal feeling comes
to a deep capacity for melancholy baby dolls
marching down Storyville streets
dressed in next to nothing and
shivering a bit

Stairway to heaven electric violin
Remembers me a loud speaker dirge
heard after anonymous high school wreck

Now here near where
the itinerant astronomer
used to set up shop:
See Saturn’s Rings for a dollar
Or two.

The tables turn over
Will I remember to feel
This way again

Drew up after I
Saw the wreckage

The size of twenty Manhattans?

All I am good for it seems
Is to curl up, ache and sleep
Until body’s regeneration
Can kick back in

What I’m getting at is what I saw
I don’t want to be just a silent witness

But how can I express this

I was in the middle of a poem on September 11, 2001
Maybe now I can go back and finish it now

after I’ve seen a little of
what these people are going through
And that they will continue on

That family lived here for three generations

Sure I have kept on
But something deep inside the core of my head and gut
Stopped up somehow

Katrina was a terrorist but now she’s gone
What little sisters will she have?

All the houses that still stand have empty eyes
One window even had a curtain

But in the lower 9th Ward it was all blown away
Houses on top of cars
Stairs to nowhere

A surrealist mess in the neutral ground
Plowed to the side by the core of disengineers
Who informed one who stuck it out
“Your city is dead”
Who are they to decide?

Spray-painted everywhere is this symbol:

It means no
Body found in this house

I also saw spray-painted in black

Help Help!

Dave says no one wants to take the hex signs off the front
In case the angel of death comes back

The force of the waves past the eaves

His home – bottom floor stripped
After everything floated around for a while

Get it out before the mold gets in

Little plastic playhouse tumbled amongst the trees

family mucking out the next door neighbors’
Where the son had to cut a hole in the roof to get out

New Orleans will never be the same
But come visit and do what you can

At every turn:
Thanks for coming down

(Lundi Gras, 2006)


Pal’s Bar

“The cement that held
The neighborhood together”


Consider the Removes

The Apple trademark symbol light
alter’d into crescent Moon and Star
with masking tape by DJ Infidel —
faces the dancers as he mixes

the Narrative of Henry Box Brown,
Who Escaped from Slavery,
Enclosed in a Box 3 Feet Long and 2 Wide.

Written from a Statement of Facts Made by Himself.
With Remarks Upon the Remedy for Slavery.

Farmers! Housewives! Children! :
The President of the United States Appeals to You Personally

Mutual relation of masters and slaves as taught in the Bible: a discourse preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, on Sabbath morning…

Without locking

Earrings on either side

How do we handle the influx after the explosion

The country that treats its own this way

No poetry after ___________this

Too Much Information on the overload

How can I free associate organically anymore with google scholar on the prowl

How can we treat a child thusly

Thrust of this argument

Helps us to imagine how

How can there be poetry

After such stillness after the shock
Pre and post imagined

And on the roof top

Time has sped up

Somehow I am late


And glam
Eyed in the light
In the photograph flash

I asked my child to write her name and she does

I stare hungrily at her face in the dark
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