Friday, September 09, 2005

sam's new orleans poem

I have been struggling this week with posting - not because of technical difficulties, but because there is so much to write about, so much that is frankly unbelievable, and unbelievably bad. So much that would earn me the label "paranoid" and "overemotional" and "irrational" if I wrote it here. Well, hell. Y'all know I am at times all of these things, so who cares if it comes out occasionally in my blog.

But the sheer volume of anecdotal idiocy in the government over the last two weeks has been overwhelming. So I'll leave it up to Shakespeare's Sister and other worthy (and oft-updated) blogs to capture that madness.

I have been wondering and worrying about a friend of mine, who has a very strong connection to New Orleans, and how she is handling the catastrophe. Her website, Sam's Day Off, is chock-full of great material. She's an exceptionally talented artist and her amazing heart shines through in her work (go to the
Art Gallery for some examples, then check out her comic, Sam's Day Off. It's well worth any extra download time.) I checked her blog yesterday. This is what she wrote:

Time to Ride the Loa

The old oaks are drowning
bodies are floating,
the water is poisoned,
it's the blood in our veins.
Children lost and abandoned,
madness is spreading,
rivers of sickness,
streets flooded with pain.
Families severed,
lives washed to the ocean,
the loa is calling,
the gris gris is broken.
The saints have all left us,
Jeanne could not protect us,
grief falls down upon us
like more heavy black rain.
Our Fathers up on the Hill
stay safe and blindfolded,
their houses are whole,
their hands are still clean.
They cast empty promises,
they make helpful gestures,
they touch down on the "safe" streets
and suffer no stain.
They come empty-handed,
they wave, disconnected,
they're guarded from reality,
protected and sane.
These poor people have never
had anything to give them,
and now their sad lives mean even less.
If they live they're a burden,
if they die, it's a cleansing,
and the wheels of the Nation grind on.
So gather the gris gris
and call on the loa,
turn your palm to your neighbor
and your fist to the sky,
catch a black rooster,
blood-paint the Samedi,
build a fire in your heart
and be ready to fly.
Curse the House and the Father
so he knows that his children
are the mad and the dying,
the black and the white.
His family is weeping,
his house is demolished,
he will know desperation
he will scream, he will cry.
He will know thirst,
he will pray for salvation,
dream of arms reaching,
and wait in the night.
Always pray for the Light
and have hope for tomorrow,
but remember the darkness,
and the way the soul burns.
For the pain of being ridden
by the blackest of loas
is worth it to the strong
if the curse takes its hold
and awareness awakens
and the Father learns.


(Cross-posted from Sam's Day Off. Can't link to this site enough, y'all.)

"...and the wheels of the Nation grind on."

I think that's the most chilling part.

The poem captures what I've been feeling about the government's part in this - or lack thereof. On some level, we want to believe that our government will protect us and care for us like a parent would. So the betrayal is personal - it's the incompetence of an organization that's supposed to be there for us as a nation, an organization that has fallen apart around us, but still maintains the illusion of leadership. Many people around me have moved on - they don't watch the news about New Orleans anymore, the drama pales, they've got to get on with their lives. But for me, the failure of the government on so many critical levels is always present - a constant reminder of betrayal and negligence.

I stand on my front porch in the evenings and feel the temperature drop as the sun goes down, let the sound of wind in the trees wash over me. I wish I could send that feeling of clean air and breezes to every single refugee. I wish our basement was finished so we could bring a family in. This place has healed me; surely it would help someone else.

I stand in the sun on my afternoon breaks and I think about how much my internal world has changed in the last two weeks. It's one thing to not trust the government (that's just good sense, as far as I'm concerned). It's another thing to see that mistrust justified before your eyes, and justified in blood. It doesn't surprise me that FEMA's censoring images from body recovery. And it doesn't surprise me that my neighbors are turning away.

Too late to "make it right." The damage is done. I will not forget.


james said...

andi: here is the link if you want to buy that halliburton t shirt:

james said...

I forgot to tell you that I like that art work of your friend. I hope her family/friends in NOLA are o.k.

skippy said...

hey andi just wanted to stop by and thank you for your donation to habitat for humanity!

hope your dad's surgery came out ok, and hope you get your car back soon.

SB Gypsy said...

Hey Andi,

I checked out Sam's Day off...what Talent!

Thanks for the link

andi said...


thanks for the link. i think sam is creating a graphic with an "M" inside a peach, too - maybe something i can put on my car without getting my headlights busted out. :) i'll post a link when it comes out. hope she'll be offering t's too.


i thought you might enjoy her website. she is really a very talented artist, and really works from her heart.


hell of an honor that you stopped by! your site is one of my all-time faves.

SB Gypsy said...

My best friend is an artist, and I'm sending her the address, too. Really cool!

Sam said...

Awww! Thanks, y'all! My bruised soul needed this love today. :D
p.s. will get workin' on that Mpeach logo SOON, and YES, I WILL FACE-PAINT!

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