Saturday, August 29, 2015

Near the Levee (repost)...

Architecture What is a Levee?
© 21 September 2005, The Griot Poet
Inspired by the article from Dr. Cornel West: “Exiles from a city and from a nation,” 11 September 2005.

Note: I corrected the spelling of levee in the title and text (it was originally "levy" as a double entendre). On reflection of the carnival barking political times we're in and to avoid the appearance of xenophobia, a preposition and country name were both exchanged from their original versions. The piece still hits powerfully, and clarifies instead of stereotypes, origin of the demand for drugs in this country is this country in total, and no one group in particular.

Dedicated to my cousin from New Orleans, John (Gus) Holmes, Jr., his beautiful family, and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina (note: they're all fine, and relocated to another state).


“When you live so close to death”
You create songs in the French Quarter on Slave Sundays that follow no pattern.
Rhythm set by clap and tambourine; washboard and kettle drum,

Old people hum in accompaniment to a Constantine Christian jubilee celebration of no cotton bailed; no backbreaking labor toiled.
The one suit you own is spoiled from overuse, and your children’s children carry on the tradition of “dress up” to anesthetize their pain.

“When you live so close to death”
The Mississippi delta builds a sediment foundation for your tragicomic pain:
“Laughing to keep from crying” births the blues!

“When you live so close to death”
People of your hue fought and escaped the French back in the day, and each day are turned away each year as they try to escape the death-hole now known as… Haiti.

“When you live so close to death, you live (life a little) more intensely,”
You create order out of chaos, from Massa raping your sisters and mothers to slaves tipping with another man’s lover: “hey baby, can we JAZZ around a little bit”?

Fighting fiercely in mock duels modeled after “southern gentlemen,” feeling disrespected, passing it down from Jazz procreation to your Hip Hop great-grandchildren’s generation as being “dissed”: with the same deadly consequences.

“When you live so close to death”
What are scraps from Massa’s table become culinary creations:
- Craw dads;
- Jambalaya;
- Gumbo;
- Shrimp Creole
- And Etoufée!

“When you live so close to death”
Lead and pollutants they allowed for your kind to warp your minds & drive the I.Q.s of your babies down scarred your psychology

BEFORE the levees broke;
BEFORE the drug flights to America!

“When you live so close to death”
You are not counted; clouded – an invisible majority under the all-mighty shadow of insignificance: exiles in your own country, resembling from years of neglect more “third world” than ninth ward or US citizenry

Hence, their news media in their quest for a ratings spree mislabeled you “refugees.”

Now, suddenly they are on our side, “shocked and awed” back to the reality of their sacred duty to inform the citizenry of a democracy… neglected for five years.

Shocked by the sight of dead bodies marred by dogs and crocodiles, piled in stairwells like logs… floating downstream! It seems perceptions change once you’re beyond a sheltered, suburban political haze, and find YOURSELF for many days
Breathing the stench,
Your own eyes seeing,
Your own ears hearing the gunshots and screams… in this country,
You cannot believe you could stay reasonably SANE…

Living so close to death!

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