jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Symbol of a Storm

This is a rough draft of a poem I wrote about the woman journalists claim is the "face of Katrina." As if tragedy has just one face. We all wear tragedy's mask at one time or another. In the case of Katrina, it was a full house costume party of tragedy, with everyone wearing the same mask. Anyway, I am putting this out here because I need some help with it. And my blogging poet friends are just the people to help! Thanks for reading!

Symbol of a Storm

They call me a symbol, a snapshot of despair
since it was my picture, me and my kids
putting a face to disaster. Ravaged, distressed,
brows furrowed, nostrils flared. We were just waiting
for a bus, looking for a dry ride out of a watery grave.

In the months leading up to it,
after the seventh baby,
after the oldest was hauled off to juvenile hall,
I had been wracking my brain, trying to come up with a way
to make my mark.

With no job, no husband, half my children
housed elsewhere, I was no super mom.
I considered most tattooed mother, blue-black lines following the rivers
and gulleys of my used body, but hey, I have been slick with labor
a total of 48 hours. Who needs more pain?

I had just made up my mind, cast my net wide
and decided to become the most traveled mama
when Mother Nature came rushing in.
Didn’t even knock, that grande dame, just rose
and rose like the sun gone wild, until she knocked

our door down, washed away our welcome mat.
In with Mother Nature’s bastard son, Flood,
came her wayward daughter, Katrina, and the dark
stench of lives lost, the shriek of families uprooted.
Don’t weep for me yet.

My children, little brown fish, they had a wild ride
up and down the rooftops. The stinking wet finger
of a levee wave flicked us atop our packed suitcases
until we three were soggy genies, floating above tragedy.
The people in that photo? They’re the old symbols of us.


Blogger ecm said...

What a great idea for a poem! I love the idea of putting yourself in the picture.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous madd said...

Jilly, I liked your visuals..raw and powerful, good concept..like it

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this . . . giving a backstory to someone in a dramatic photo. Love the "who needs more pain?" question and the ending, that the picture is the old self.

You asked for suggestions? Maybe tighten language in first stanza so it's shorter and gets to the action faster? Maybe replace "super mom" with something else to avoid the cliche when the rest of it is so specific? Do you see me struggling here because it's terrific already?

10:46 AM  
Blogger pepektheassassin said...

I love to visit your 'spot. I am always amazed and glad I came!

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a good approach to a tough subject. Regarding suggestions, decide what you want to say and take out anything that doesn’t contribute or is redundant. It’s good now and can only get great.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

You are so amazing with your haiku, I knew I was in for a treat :) Very powerful images and you gave Katrina one voice but it spoke for them all.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Kris said...

I can't say it enough: great poetry! awesome images!

Love coming to this here place. Love to read the poetry.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great poem. I'm thankful that poets and writers are still talking about Katrina. I fear that people will forget now that we're not hearing much about recovery efforts.

My favorite phrase,"looking for a dry ride out of a watery grave."

9:07 PM  

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