Hammad Poem on Katrina

The lovely and talented Suheir Hammad has written two poems about Hurricane Katrina, which she performed at a fundraiser for survivors. You can now read one of them, “A Prayer Band,” in its entirety here. Here’s a taste:

a new orleans man pleads
we have to steal from each other to eat
another gun in hand says we will protect what we have
what belongs to us

i have known of fleeing desperate
with children on hips in arms on backs
of house keys strung on necks
of water weighed shoes
disintegrated official papers
leases certificates births deaths taxes

i have known of high ways which lead nowhere
of aches in teeth in heads in hands tied

i have known of women raped by strangers by neighbors
of a hunger in human

i have known of promises to return
to where you come from
but first any bus going any where

tonight the tigris and the mississippi moan
for each other as sisters
full of unnatural things
flooded with predators and prayers

all language bankrupt

Go here for the rest.

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