Thursday, January 19, 2012


When I was young, a loved one said, “LB, you are a hurricane.” It was part-compliment and part-insult. You know the sort. My hair, my heart, my spirit, all of that approaching and retreating: the reasoning pinned behind the smile and joke. I was wild enough to laugh and undercut the tension, ignore the razored truth. 

When I was not so young, I nearly lost my best friend to that wild mess in NOLA. Even later, I lived in that glorious city and felt her hum well after the fact. Violence punctures so much. It wasn’t the carcass districts or wards. It was the people. The rocking chair in the middle of a lot. It was the stain water and oil left. It was the lots that old men sat in, and the stories people clipped between classifieds-like post office updates.
"Hymn to a Hurricane"
by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

For the grace of fingers that could not grasp edges,
corners, or anchors. For hands that were too wet
to bridge the chasm of inches or rope. For the wrist
and its bending digits, for the drowned infants
who floated like wood past the dark hulls
of their mothers' bodies.

For the days-old corpses of women and men
whose wheelchairs became graves. For children
who were too shocked to speak their identities;
for the ghosts of their voices that haunt the flag
to which they were taught to pledge allegiance.

For the rainbows that assembled in their waters
diseased with gasoline and blood. For the voices
whose rage thundered like thunder inside the stadium
because they refused the musky death of animals.

For the men who fired guns at helicopters that passed over
their own nearly submerged heads. Over and over the blades whirred
promises of water and bread and help while mothers and daughters,
brothers and fathers drowned, their lives devoured by neglect.

Lives gave up on the living and floated to dark, drier islands.
Torrents rose over broken levees. Dead cattle bobbed along
interstates. Highways unfurled into ribbons and graves. The President
remained on vacation. The Secretary of State shopped for shoes.

For Charmaine Neville who commandeered down Canal Street
while storefronts shattered and bodies were raped. Helpless fists pounded
the bus window like bullets. For the junkies who needed something
stronger than death or a dream to placate their addictions.
For the residents who refused to abandon the corpse of New Orleans.

For a husband who could not save his entire family
because he only had two hands. For their house split
in half by water. For his wife’s last words: you can’t hold on
and hold me. For the absence of God as she dropped his hands
and gave herself like a petal to the gulf.

For her son who understood, as he climbed onto the roof
by the help of two trembling hands, that his father, only
a man and not a god, could not save his mother's life
from something as inexplicable as water.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Am I Doing, Really -- Jane Yolen

How Am I Doing, Really?

You do not want me to answer that,
for it would mean peeling back my skin
splitting open my chest bones,
revealing a heart that still beats
though it is half the size it once was.
It would mean sawing off the top of my skull
and shaking out pieces of my brain
which hardly functions right, left
are memories, the latest ones first,
like daguerreotypes nestled in a velvet lining,
you dead on the bed, your head to one side,
mouth open, an image that is with me always.

How am I doing, really? Really well
on the outside, so that everyone seeing me
murmurs, "So brave, so astonishing,"
while inside I am climbing onto that last bed,
spooning my body around yours,
and dying even more slowly than you did.

--Jane Yolen


I'm pinning things on Pinterest: addicting. Clickity Click:
It just sneaks up on you, those carefully controlled experiences, & 
they explode on you so that you've got a whole lot of beauty and grit on your heart and mind.