Wednesday, 1 September 2010
I wrote this on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The poem mixes the history of New Orleans with the voodoo goddess of storm, Mambo, and its reputation for ghosts.
Mambo is dancing wildly over New Orleans,
A goddess of pagan, primal power,
And as the city flees in fear and panic,
From her frantic, mantic havoc,
Down every street people are dying,
As the dark, reeking waters keep on rising.
And in her monstrous blind, black eye,
So grimly churning, and all consuming,
A cataract of white unwinding cloud,
Opens wide enough to see for an instant,
The moon, as a fleeting glinting ghost,
Swinging in the sky as if upon a gibbet,
For the hounds of hell, her cruel companions,
Now howl on the wind, seeking fresh carrion,
Hunting down the dying and the drowning,
All those left to die in their low housing,
Whilst thunder drums the starless night,
As if regiments of redcoats were in full flight,
And riding the sky, to attack and then fight,
With their swords raised high shouting 'advance'
And rusty rifles firing, fierce flashes of lightning.
Now only the ghosts of New Orleans remain,
In memories and rotting shacks of shame,
You can hear them when a North wind blows,
And wind chimes rattle their old dried bones,
In the song of a saxophone playing at night,
Whose last note is heard, at dawns first light.