After Katrina

After Katrina


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




An expected / self-effacing Southern Male / I have quietly endured the stale

pain for five weeks now / bowed by grim armature


Mackie Blanton



 After Katrina

By Mackie Blanton

Chapter I


Neighbors and Invaders

Along my inner right thigh

the stealth of teeth or pincers

or stingers

unsuspectantly has

invaded poisoned stiffened

my musculature.


Like an Atlantic villager

looking up backwards

across my shoulder

to an onslaughtering assault

of ironbreasted vandals stalking

behind darkening old air,

I feel attacked, bent,

and angry.


An expected

self-effacing Southern Male

I have quietly endured the stale

pain for five weeks now

bowed by grim armature;

first before leaving the US

and now here, at a sidewalk café,

bending beneath lemon trees over memories,

a cappuccino and chocolate-covered nuts,

at best each night believing it would lift,

at last surrendering to my massages

and caresses.


This unneighborly incursion

happened I suppose six weeks

or so ago

(What do I know of such things?)

on my own Louisiana land

somehow somewhere

among the debris and rubbish


from the womb and maw and tresses

of a sweetly named hurricane.


All I have sought here

was an antibiotic salve

bought in halting Turkish

at an Ankara pharmacy.

I have hope now here in Izmir

that the balm, absorbed below crusting pus,

will work miracles beneath the skin:


a sleuth to match

my silence

an experimenter to match

my risk-taking

a problem solver warrior to match

my visitor’s curiosity

for the terrain and plains

of the daughters and sons

of conquerors.


I am kept awake at night

however both by the pain

setting up camp

just above my knee


and by images entrenched

along my brain

of a suffering

worse than my own

(unless of course poisoned

I am dying): of

those abandoned homeless or dead

along America’s Gulf Coast

by an indifferent loveless wind

with a comely name: Katrina.


But let’s put this aside;

for more than all of this,

my personal concern for self

and others has been diminished

by the disgust and enmity

hardening my heart.


For my life, for our lives along the Gulf,

have been embalmed by the caresses

of quacks shysters and hucksters

not by the pummeling of

sudden war or famine or suicide bombers

but by the greed and slight of neighbors

massaging their pockets purses and wallets.


There are no words now

sublime enough to distract us

from thieves,

from the truth about men and women

who have not led,

nor even to divert our aim

away from their target heart.


When was I bitten or stung



Was it when I hung out mildew

on tree trunks in the sun light

so that my clothes could air

dry out smell fresh again?


Was it when I fell to my knees,

lay down on toxic pavement,


from rushing through the swampy

stench and mold of living room bed room

study, retrieving possessions things

I would do better to learn to live without?


When were we fooled and betrayed



Was it when we first opened a book

about union unity liberty good citizenship?

The Dream?

Or was it that second book

often read at mother’s knee

about belief community compassion


Again, The Dream.


Those books from my home,

now heaped at the curbside,

besogged with unseen toxicity,

hidden warfare inherent duplicity,

surrender their ink and evasive stains

to the evening air.


Take pictures and save receipts,

Agents and adjusters tell us.

My neighbor, an amateur photographer,

will flit here and there in most of the

neighborhoods of dead zones and

ruin – Flick!  Flick!  Snap!  Snap! –

and frame his takes for an eventual

one man opening at a fine French

restaurant, with wine cheese and

chocolate-covered ants.

posted 16 March 2006



Your request encouraged me and I promptly forgot the promise, although I started the ms. Here it is –  the first three musings only – a ms in progress. The first chapter is the poem you already have, somewhat revised; the second chapter (“Earthquakes and Baklavah”) and the third chapter (“The Lens in Plato’s Eye”) are “completed”; the fourth chapter (“Harun”) I just started. A work in progress. I suggest you drop “Harun”. I suggest you retake the opening poem since it’s slightly revised.

Notice my little electric stove top in the background and copper cezve, both of which I bought in the Kemeralti district of Izmir, and a recently released book (edited by Talia Levine Bar-Yoseph) for which I wrote the “Foreword”? — –Mackie

MACKIE JOSEPH-VENET BLANTON, Ph.D.            /            FULBRIGHT SENIOR LECTURER                   /                EDEBIYAT FAKULTESI


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update 2 January 2012




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