Tag Archives: #new orleans

“When Chris Met Katrina” Snippets of a story from the book “Mississippi Window Cracks”

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The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help.  They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there.  As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside.  Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets.  Police were patrolling the doors.  Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative.  Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too.  He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.

Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes.  He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans.  His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done.  Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed.  Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor.  He was all of nine years old.  With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.

A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog.  The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet.  From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed.  But he knew underneath he was probably  paddling his legs wild as the devil!  Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try.  He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked.  He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.

Continue reading “When Chris Met Katrina” Snippets of a story from the book “Mississippi Window Cracks”

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Love for Louisiana, Re-membering Katrina

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August 29, 2005 marks the day the world has now recorded as one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States.  Hurricane Katrina struck the poorest region in this country, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  She changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

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The following story was inspired by an interview I conducted with my neighbor.  He moved to Los Angeles after losing everything to the storm in New Orleans.  Although the story is fiction, and written to connect with the other short stories in the book, some of the incidents, times and locations are true accounts of what he described to me during his four day ordeal of waiting to be rescued.  My neighbor declined interviews from dozens of Los Angeles newspapers that contacted him.  His simple request to me was that his name be Chris in the story.  I am honored he felt comfortable enough to share such an intimate story with me.  He cried twice and broke down once.  A man who can no longer sleep when it rains.  A man proud to be from New Orleans but angry that he was left to die.

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I dedicate the story, When Chris Met Katrina to EJ from apartment #7

also

my Grambling State University roommate, Kelly Lawrence.  A Louisiana native whose face flashed on CNN news with her three children at the Houston Astrodome.

And respectively,

to the millions of people

effected directly and indirectly.

love, libations and prayers.

nikki

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9th Ward, I Saw You

I finally saw where you ran.  I finally saw where you climbed.  I rode on the freeway you slept.

I wept.

I saw your cobble mixed streets and humidity strangled window panes

the markings on your porch remain / your neighbor remain refrained from returning

and we partied on Bourbon Street.

I saw how you thought it’d be safe to stay / I saw where the levee gave way

…the Mississippi lived up to her name, Mighty.

like yellow stained teeth from coffee and smoke / I saw

the flood stains that remain against your doors and fences and house panels

up to 6 feet / too deep for grandmother and her 55 year old niece

and we partied on Bourbon Street.

and I saw the roofs where you climbed / the shot gun houses with attic crawl space

for the young to cling to who were small and few

I know how you pray / so I know you thought it’d be safe to stay

forgive us for not pouring some spirits on the streets for your soul of mind.

9th Ward, I Saw You.  I saw where you met Katrina.

 

inspired by a New Orleans visit 6/2013 -copyright nikki skies 2013