My city is drowning
I turn on the tv. I want to know what is happening. I don’t know how to feel . . . what to feel. I see. My city drowning. I see my people black and bruised and begging and screaming and dying. The faces are all familiar. Voices all heard before. There is violence and desperation.
“I hear they are looting for food, and water and passing it out to other people” someone says.
The pretty blonde news anchor scoffs at the remark “Makes them sound like modern day Robin hoods . . . right.”
A tiny laugh.
She shakes her head, her stomach full, her clothes clean, her environment air-conditioned, her bathroom works.
News continues. Looters. Anarchy. My people are shown plastered against the screen. Violence shooting black bodies baked by the sun. The camera zooms in the sound cuts out, like some damned discovery channel special. But we are people, humans we are beings. I can see them cry. My youngest sister is trapped in the once proud convention center. People are dying all around her. A mother gives birth. A three month old is starving. The mother mal nourished and sick cannot produce the mil to feed her child A diabetic goes into shock an old woman faints the smell of shit and rot stifles the hot humid air. A woman sits besides the body of her dead lover wrapped in a white sheet. Still, clinging to the past despite the one-hundred and five degree heat.
And she cries
-and i cry
And she screams
-and i scream
-i am helpless
I call. Circuits are down, signal busy. I cannot get through
so I wait
for the phone to ring
And finally Mother calls from Baton Rouge. She is safe and with family. Everything lost. Everything is gone. This woman who raised my brother and me on her own, this woman who shed tears of blood and sweet to own her own piece of land to make a life, a better world for her children, my hero, my Saint, lost everything. She doesn’t cry. No tears are left
So I cry instead.
She tells me of a woman whom I’ve known since birth. “She was screaming because the glass was breaking all around her. I told her to get into the bathroom. She was screaming just screaming.
She tells me of the man who called her early in the morning to tell her to get out. He didn’t leave himself.
“The water is rising in the house,” he says his island accent strong
“Get out,” she cries
“The water is rising in the house”
“Get out. Get to the roof. Get out”
“It’s to late for me to leave the water rises.”
That is the last she has heard.
She is 56 she has to begin again
Everything is lost
but she is lucky
she is blessed
she is alive
Finally Brother calls. A friend made it out but his grand mother stays behind.
I see the view from above. I know the street. I’ve walked it. I know how the streets run with water in the gentle rains and how it flows like a river in the heavy storms. I know the roofs of the houses barely visible swallowed by water.
Big Sister calls. The man whom we share as a father made it . . . he had to be dragged away from his business. It was the world to him. It was his life. I wonder if he will recover.
PaRaine calls. “I don’t know where my daughter is, her husband the grandchildren?”
“Did they stay behind?” I ask in tears.
The answer is simple
“I’ve heard nothing”
I make a list that grows longer and l o n g e r.
Where are they? Did they make it?
On the news I watch them spray painting Ds and Xs over housed. The dead are here – do not enter.
But are they alive? Did they make it?
Dead bloated bodies tied to stop signs. People walk past trying not to see, trying not to stop.
A best friend calls. Her mother. My second mother makes it out of the hospital after walking through raw sewage and shit and rot through a river of death and decay she makes it out
The phone stops ringing.
another day begins
The president denies the aid of other countries
I seethe, I cry, I scream
rape and death and birth
“Where are you?” they cry to God and Country “Help us! Help us!”
Goddess, God, Lord and Lady help them I cry help them!
Where is their Home Security now?! Are they left to die because they are poor and black . . . like me? Are they to be washed away and forgotten? The rich sit on leather couches watching HD tv screens, shaking their head, sipping their cocktails. “What a shame. ” Remember you once came to play in my city you walked my streets of magick and mystery and now it drowns and where are you
Where am I?
Curled inside a bottle trying to forget trying to hide trying to run.
At least for a little while.
I turn off the television
I go to get a drink of water to clear my head but as soon as it touches my lips I am full of guilt for those who have not this luxury.
I can’t sleep in my bed because there are those that have not this luxury
I turn out the light
“Where are you my Country,” They scream
Where are you Aunt Grace, Uncle Robert, Troy, Ms Miles, Ms Oubre, Aunt Diane, Alethea, Susie, Mrs. Guevara, Sondra, Angela, Dawn, Katie, McClain, Cathy, Mike, Ashley? The list goes on and on, rolling out adding more and more
My city drowns
My people die
Some say we can never go back
But I will
I will stand on the ashes.
I will touch the wreckage of what was once my home.
I will make my peace
and honor the dead
My city will live in me
I have not idea what the hell is going on.
I caught a cold… a hell of a cold a few days ago. Just when it looked like I was getting better I got struck with a sudden bout of insomnia. I did manage to get some stuff done. I finished a book that I was reading Wyrms by Orson Scott Card. It is an easy read and I like it but then again I have a thing for tentacles. I washed and put away some clothes. My roomates are still awake but Rex is asleep. Poor thing I gave him my cold I think but he will be well and done with it before I am.
He always is.
Today was his Dad’s birthday and we took him out to eat it was really nice but I am still hungry maybe because I can not sleep. I just might get the taxes out of the way…….. and I have been summoned for jury duty. I am not looking forward to it. I feel the need to work on one of my other stories that I have been writing I will do that.
Why waste all this damn energy.
I was up late yet again last night. I have so much stuff to do today but I just do not feel like doing it. I feel as if things are spiraling out of control. Maybe that is why I am finding it so easy to write right now.
Well here are some lyrics I thought up
Rain kiss the street / there’s a full moon rising
Drums tap the beat / that my heart is finding
There’s voodoo in the wind / spider’s fingers on my skin
Magnolia breeze is telling me / oh baby be my creole king
Calm calls the melody / slidin’ in seducing me
Come taste my recipe / let your gin sit in me
There’s bourbon in his bayou grin/ Gonna let this heathen in
This phantom calls to me / oh baby be my creole king
Oh lost in the river bend / how far did I slip in
Mmm nobody tell’d me / but he pulling like the Mississippi
Lay me in a honeysuckle bed / won’t you kiss my un-maidenly head
Put a hurricane in my veins / Till I scream out your name
Oh lost in a memory / is where you’ll find me
Oh a hot southern night / on rue amor he bind’ me
My creole king did to me call / into me I let him fall
Dissappeared in mystery / in his arms you will find me
Oh come hear my tale / that he has taught me
Come taste this gift / that my love has bought me
Dark as night and twice as lovely / I’ll give you magic if you love me
This pleasure you’ve never seen / Let me be your creole queen
Oh come hear my tale / that he has taught me
Come taste this gift / that my love has brought to me
There’s voodoo in my skin/ Come on baby let me in
This pleasure you’ve never seen/ Let me be your creole queen
I started writing something a few days back this is all that I have so far but I think that I am off to a good start the hardest thing is getting it all to come out sometimes I feel as if the words are all stuck in my head just content to lay there and rot. I have to poke and prod them to come out. Well here it is.
It took my hair out the first time… clumps of it. Just as tame and straight as Jane’s but it came out all the same. As if my very skull rejected the forced assimilation even though I was quite too young to understand. And it itched, itched like hell. You know the kind of itch that is just like a doctor saying “oh no dear this is only going to sting” to calm you down just enough to inflict his torment freely upon you. I learned after the first time going to the doctors but for some reason (other than my mother) I kept going back to that salon, sitting in that hot leather chair, letting myself be boosted up until my dangling toes no longer touched the ground ( I suspected then so that I could not change my mind and run away) and tortured almost unbearably for 12 years (once a month) like clockwork.
Oh it burned like hot ice. I imagined my head a stack of smoke. How long was it? 15 or 20 minutes with that awful white girlish pink tinged stuff dripping to my ears and eating the flesh away. I remember it even now. God the liberation I felt when she put my head “under the sink” to wash out that awful lye based acid. It felt like relieving yourself after waiting a long long time. Crud I know but that is the truth. Such intense pleasure after all that pain. Every muscle in my body ached with release. It was like I was being worked over by a grand masseur. .. Well that was until she stared scrubbing my scalp to make sure it was all out. Her freshly French tipped manicured nails ripped at the newly opened wounds or war against my untamable hair. I remember the salt tears running from my eyes as I tried desperately not to cry aloud. Over the years it got easier, more accustomed to the pain. Just one of my many penances for being black and a woman.
I would leave that parlor (two hours later) on account of the drying and curling) and relish in the feeling of the wind running it’s finger through my sore scalp. I didn’t mind the fact that I would not be able to play bare headed in the rain, sweat or worst of all go swimming (unless it was under the strictest understanding that my head was not be submerged at any and all costs). I was happy no longer nappy. I would swing my head back and forth until I saw stars swimming in the clouds. I would turn in mad circles just to see my hair move freely like all those shampoo commercials. Just as lose and easy as those blonde skinny models. For five minutes I was in heaven on earth. Just five minutes because my mother (ever watchful) yelled at me to get back in the car/house lest the strong southern humidity cause it to go back, all the way back… to Africa. And that would be a waste of her 30 dollars. Money that we did not have to spend. For a week I would suffer sleeping on hard curlers thinking to myself that if Jesus could stand a crown of thorns I would at least stand this. By the second week the chemical burns would heal up. Mama would scratch my head and the scabs would float to the top of the black river and fall like snow onto my back and the dark blue towel across her lap. By the end of the second week I was fine, perfect at peace. My scalp had healed over and my hair still moved when the wind touched it. But by the fourth week it no longer hung down and the thin comb would not pass though it. And my scalp began to itch un mercifully. My mother interrogated me about what I had been doing to my hair. The hair dresser laughed and said my hair will one day be able to “hold the perm” for up to six weeks once I was older (it never did). Unruly once more like an unbroken wild animal thing back in Africa all the way back in Africa.
And so the process began again.
So I could look