Friday, March 7, 2008


on our way to a night of revelry,
jazz, and incredible food
our bus driver took us
through the Lower 9th Ward.

This is the place that was hardest hit
by the floodwaters. It sits
behind one of the main levees
that broke.

Most of the houses were completely
gone, either washed away
or carted off
in the back of a dump truck as a pile of rubbish.
The place looked more like
an open field
than somewhere people used to be.

There were a few houses left,
perched precariously
atop beaten foundations.
Boards warped,
windows beaten out
and boarded up haphazardly,
roofs stripped back like banana peels,

Our driver tells us
this was a place
where gangs and poverty flourished.
The people that lived here are now in places like
Utah, Colorado, Oregon.

Places where they did not grow up.
Places where their families do not live.
Places where the people are
unfamiliar, the food is
strange, and the names of the streets
hold no memories.

This is where my daughter was married.
This is where my son rode his bike.
This is where I was born.

The driver tells us that when the people left,
when the exodus happened,
the government confiscated this property.
Did not pay.


And there are to be condominiums going up here.
Nice, gentrified condos.
Second homes.

The rent in the Lower 9th has gone up to $1500/mo
and the rubble
hasn't even been cleared yet.
The grass is still high,
and the people are gone.

He says this is good
since the gangs are gone
and the poverty has been wiped away.
But don't we all know they are not gone?
They have only been displaced.

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