For Poetry Thursday, I detoured from the prompt; instead I've written two poems about post-Katrina New Orleans:
On the plane from Atlanta to Paris
the baby-faced young man who'd never been out of Louisiana
described his passion: cooking shrimp gumbo and barbeque
and his daddy's nine shrimp boats lost in Katrina's wake,
everything he had swept away.
This freckle-faced youth far, far from home
bursting with excitement and expectation, fear and hope
then flew from Paris to Cairo, where he rode a bus five more hours
to a dangerous job, among strangers in a foreign sea,
speaking languages he'd never heard.
Before the levee spilled its banks
the young Cajun chef and oil rig worker
didn't even dream of a passport;
never expected a 36-hour 10,000 mile trip
just to find work to pay the bills.
Stand on your own two feet
No home to go back to; no insurance payout.
His mama wept buckets at the airport,
but no amount of crying could change the fact:
no shrimp boats or off-shore oil rigs left for her son the chef;
no Cajun food where he's gone.
Hurricane Run is the only hurricane welcome
a four-year-old racehorse with heart,
storming the tracks of Europe
Handy triumph at Longchamp expected;
Other hurricanes create devastation,
peeling off lovely facades of cities
exposing their rough underpinnings
of shady mismanagement
and corrupt backroom deals.
Katrina's had a longer run than most
its shocking ruin on a grand scale
sending oil rig workers with Cajun drawls
flying to offshore jobs in the Red Sea;
Gulf Coast hemorrhaging oil and loss.
seems to worsen the problem.
Corruption and greed undercuts
the rebuilding process, moving on a slow train.
The rich get richer; the poor wait their turn.
Marc Broussard's singing about Home
but displaced residents are scattered all over the country.
Some have learned to adjust, accept any job offered;
find other ways to make a living; make new friends,
make the best of a bad situation.
But they long to return to the city of their birth.
Their hearts beat to the rhythm of New Orleans.
The music's infused in their souls - hot jazz and sultry blues
flowing through bourbon-filled nights and warm, humid days.
Now it's all a distant memory.
Thousands of such stories
to crack your heart wide open with despair,
make you weep with frustration and anger
at the ineptitude and bureaucracy fueling their exodus;
when those who can help, won't.