Poetry: Rumi for New Orleans

Nancy Flynn Apostrophe Blog Archive, History Lessons

The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

On this eighteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina destroying the singular city of New Orleans, I thought I would re-post something I wrote back in 2005 during the week that the hurricane was battering New Orleans and other Mississippi and Louisiana communities in that region. So much corruption and incompetence then. Even more corruption and incompetence now. What is wrong with this country?

This has been a battering week. Much we knew, suspected about the state of our union, the rift in the social fabric of this country, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has been thrown up before our eyes and for all the world to see. The charade of government shown to be more horrible, corrupt and uncaring than I’d ever dreamed or dared imagine. Paralyzing bureaucrats waiting on paper work. Incompetent political appointees getting disaster news a day late, in a newspaper? Finger-pointing and blaming rather than taking responsibility. Obscene obsession with political capital leads to shameless, callous disregard for human life. Poll numbers over pulling people to safety from attics and roofs. Complete and utter dereliction of duty. The emperor with no clothes, no shred of decency and compassion, no human heart. And now displaced people, fractured families, disrupted lives, the ruin of a singular city.

The pain and anguish of what has been allowed to happen, so much preventable, will be with this country for a long, long time. Many wise words have spilled the banks of Lake Pontchartrain into the streets of New Orleans to try and make sense of it.

I’m reading Rumi—I think these poems honor the spirit of what is/was/is New Orleans:

Some nights stay up till dawn,
as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way
of a well, then lifted out into light.

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.

The public domain photograph view above is from within Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana. It was likely taken by a photographer in employ of Micaela Almonester in 1851.


Nancy Flynn
Follow me
Latest posts by Nancy Flynn (see all)