ROCKPILE on the road / 11

Michael Rothenberg


Despite day after day of appearance
by President Bush aimed at undoing

talk about corpses

Hurricane Katrina
blew through Hollywood, Florida

the political damage from
a poor response to Hurricane Katrina,

talk about toxic soup

Palm fronds

the White House has not been able
to regain its footing,

talk about mama drowning

Cane splinters

already shaken by the war in Iraq
and a death toll exceeding 1,880.

talk about suicide

Mango branches
on the lawn

The administration on Tuesday struggled
to deflect calls for an accounting

talk about rotten stench

In New Orleans
hungry mortality

of who was responsible for a hurricane response
that even Bush acknowledged was inadequate

talk about nothing left

mushroom, bacon omelet

Even as Katrina was bearing down
on the Gulf Coast that Sunday night

talk about being lost

A biscuit at Grandpa’s Diner

and early Monday, Aug. 28-29,
and the national hurricane center was warning

talk about losing everything

Skip dinner
Shell a bowl of peanuts

of growing danger, the White House
didn't alter the president's plans

talk about too much talk

Wake late, check news
New Orleans destroyed

to fly from his Texas ranch to the West
to promote a new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

talk about corpses

Why aren't there
ten thousand rescue helicopters
flying into New Orleans?

By the time Bush landed in Arizona that Monday,
the storm was unleashing its fury

talk about toxic soup

Why can’t an administration
that says it can rebuild Iraq
protect its own people?

on Louisiana and Mississippi.
The president inserted into his speech

talk about mama drowning

Don't answer

only a brief promise of prayers and federal help.
He continued his schedule in California,

talk about suicide

It’s a race, class issue
“Boots or books” issue

and he didn't decide until the next day
that he should return to Washington.

talk about rotten stench

Iraq issue, troops issue!
Food or security issue?

But it took him another day to get there,
as he flew back to Texas to spend another night

talk about nothing left

“It’s human nature!”

at his home before leaving for the White House.
Once the president was in Washington,

talk about being lost

Babies sheltered w/ cardboard salvaged
from wreckage of “policy”

the criticism only intensified.
In a television interview, Bush said - mistakenly –

talk about losing everything


that nobody anticipated
the breach of the levees in a serious storm.

talk about too much talk


Even Monday’s trip to the region was a redo,
hurriedly arranged by the White House. . .

Father says, “A Thousand Points of Light”

Son says, “The Armies of Compassion”

Bush raised eyebrows on his first trip
by, among other things, picking Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. –

talk about mama drowning

Even as we speak. . .

instead of the thousands of mostly poor
and black storm victims – as an example of loss.

Bicycling medicines
from pharmacy to catastrophe

That they would be refugees

“Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house— ” Bush said,
“he’s lost his entire house—there’s going to be a fantastic house.
And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

Bush gave FEMA chief Brown – the face for many
of the inadequate federal response –

Aliens in their own country

Because they’re poor, black, poor, white

a hearty endorsement. "Brownie,
you're doing a heck of a job," Bush said.

talk about too much talk

“Making their own situations
in a dog eat dog world”

Later in Biloxi, Miss.,
Bush tried to comfort two stunned women

talk about too much talk


wandering their neighborhood
clutching Hefty bags, looking in vain for something

talk about too much talk


to salvage from the rubble of their home.
Bush kept insisting they could find help

talk about too much talk

“Flood victims”

at a Salvation Army center down the street,
even after another bystander informed him

talk about too much talk

talk about corpses

it had been destroyed.
And at his last stop that day,

talk about too much talk

“It’s time for Bush to go”

at the airport outside of New Orleans,
Bush lauded the increasingly desperate city
as a great town because he used to go there
and “enjoy myself—occasionally too much.”

talk about too much talk

whine, whine
go away
come again another day

talk about corpses

maybe ten thousand corpses

talk about too much talk

too much, too much

I look outside
Crows in the mango tree

August 28-September 16, 2005

Michael Rothenberg performs KATRINA
with Blodie and members of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band in New Orleans.

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