—from the Village Voice
By Rudolph Lewis
New York is a half a continent
away for Katrina 480
As evacuees we navigate a cutthroat
market with no money,
bunk in hotels around the boroughs.
FEMA's deadlining to stop footing
the bill. We're in the clutches
propaganda from Homeless Services.
earn more sympathy than
accommodations at the Apollo Hotel—
drawers, no telephones . . .
People go hungry
with candy bars & Red
Cross addicted to denial. Desperation numbs
Outrage criminalizes—files pile up in cases
on desks how New Orleans people are
different in their way of life—it’s a trick
question no matter how you try to explain
the pain. The caseworker doesn't come
She's at home with her money
I talked to a nice lady. I felt really happy
that day for the first time in a long
long time since the hurricane. And then
there're times when it's been really, really
rough. I really miss my home. I miss
my friends. I miss the way of life I had.
I don't know what I'd do without
Then there’re ultimatums. If they don't
have funding, get the hell out of Iraq
get the hell out of Iraq, take care
of your own people. If a man has a family
and he's off with somebody else's family,
paying their bills, his own family's suffering—
you gotta take care of your own people
first and your own country. They want us
in spacefor murders & robberies.
Let’s talk about responsibility & faith
in government. I fucking hate them. I was
stuck down there, the police did not know
what to do—too dangerous for FEMA
to come in. How do you think
that made us feel stuck down there—
the mayor shooting at people, making them
turn around? He gave orders to the police
force to do it. We heard the announcement,
twin span completely out, we were told
there was no way out of the city. You
expected someone to come in & help
I feel claustrophobic in my room. You
can't keep anything organized. There isn't
a drawer to keep anything in. You can't eat
anything here, there's no phone.They're
treating you like you're a welfare addict, like
someone who's never worked a day in her life.
You spend your whole day filling out forms
like what you put poor people through.
I don't even bother anymore. It's such a comic
thing—food stamps: you want a
They got you at a work center eight hours
a day for food stamps. I don't have a legitimate
1040 & they kicking me out, telling me
to bounce. I don't enjoy this kind of public
assistance—just getting by to
get on my feet.
It's too long, too
much. My dad passed away
in the hurricane in Chalmette in a tidal wave.
He got to the
attic with medicines, died
with a full gallon of water unopened. I hope it
was quick—a heart attack, not a snakebite—
how you deal with that? I've never been treated
in this manner but they don't care. I have money
to pay but they don't want to hear that.
We been here almost three months.
They wait for the deadline to help us.