Song of a Cajun

By Fred Greenhalgh

In memory, Mark Krasnoff, 1963-2006
Poem inspired by the truth, but not based on reality

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You preached to me — “Next time FEMA, send lube”
as your tongue spilled out black vile
“Truth,” you said, “Ask
what’s happening now,
not six months ago”

We all saw the water flood the streets
but we never saw the waterline’s brown scar in every neighborhood

We saw houses torn, their innards strewn
across an untended battleground
but never saw the numbers dead
spraypainted on the shutters of our street

We never waited on hold for the insurance
company, our letters returned for months,
only to hear “There’s nothing we can do”

We still believe that if the worst happens,
help will come

You were an explosion of the real
from the tide of humanity
that recedes now like the swampland
that once stood where the levees broke

You were a wild thing
caged in a poisoned city,
bursting forth in your ambition with something
no other actor dared wield — the truth

From that unsturdy and muddy place
you saw too far

And so, one hot September night,
the brutal summer not yet a memory,
you headed to the banks of that eternal river,
wielding a bottle of bourbon and valium,
to lay back on the wet grass for one last look
at the dim stars

before sinking back
to the place of cottonmouths
and catfish
where you emerged.