Shake 'N' Bake
NOLA's Bolus*
by Dotty Simons
*a lump of masticated food (homo sapiens), ready to be swallowed

If it wasn't a suspicion
Why would she sneak
Along impassable roads ?


This disaster-zone held; unfathomed.
Least of all by a tiny woman
You can tell a mile away
She was born
In New Orleans.


Her world fell apart
Like having her ass
Handed back in a sling.


Very few solutions seemed
Outside illusion's dreams.
Survival a test
Of who gets in or out
Using a ruse
Her tight orange vest then
Talk dirty-rough with officers
Cruising on duty
Like one of the boys.


But, Berta's one of us. Not one of them.


We were testing the periphery
As the state troopers amassed.
Finding weaknesses in the lines
For others to pass un-noticed.


A single individual crossing
In or out of New Orleans
Became our geometry,
Our map,
Of alternate supply lines.


Of course there was suspicion
In the air we breathed, but
less in our camp, we hoped,
than among their ranks


Of enemies as rag-tag as us,
Out where their military brass
Dressed in civvies like CNN
Just as frantic to get the news
Most likely pissin their pants
Over what's comin down
When it blows again like L.A. soon.


A final fully armed American solution
If these locals got their chance
To stomp some "nigger-lovin' ass
Once and for all", like they said they would.


Surrounding us, cornering us rats
Amidst a devastated world of roofs
Or muck-soaked shacks, the bones of what
Both whites and blacks once called home --
Now, cross-spray our door
Mark-up our filth-pocked property.


Rescues recall old frights as a
Posse skids an armored bass boat by.
Each wake splashes memories,
Mimics assaults in drive-by shoot-outs
We're always forced to watch as if
Way back . . Big Easy, now a bayou
Sank to water-slime, un-natural black.
Back when crime weighs mothers down by day
Each night intolerable, inescapable outside
A familiar, sympathetic enclave brinked upon a cave-in now.
"Mother-fuck !" "Hold on tight !"


Feeling betrayed by streets, now land
Inundated, we're
Surrounded -
Only outsiders sail in
Strain imaginations. What sucks our blood?
These sorties upon peasant huts, over us?
Never landing to lend a hand? Pure exhaustion?


Land smothered, land dead
We never, ever could declare we owned it
In clear deed or title when
Uncle Sam and Jim Crow or, a southern
Big Daddy War-Bucks came around.


The strategists on power's side
The president's brightest
Gag on sights of another,
Any other bloodbath certainties, they
Start crapping on each other
For Instant Replay re-hashed
National broadcasts on TV.
Unamused, incumbent Republicans
In mid-term fright - "so hush it up"
Talk of bloodbaths sometime tomorrow
Might favor a Democrat.


Yet who would or who could control
The mercenaries,
The Blackwater boys,
Hired to protect rich properties,
So far from homes
In South Africa, Tel Aviv and Des Moines?
Banking 15,000 bucks apiece, this month alone.


Our clearest-headed sons
Ones you would choose
As leaders
Were not on drugs, yet
Late at night were as confused
By muses and images.
Memories of other sieges
Seized their minds
As they talked late at night.
All tied in knots they unravelled
Trying to distinguish past
From present, from the future battles.


No strategy, no objective loomed as clear
As the check-points
With temporary mounds
All of us encountered
And catapulted
Scattering along our fragile levies.


With two sides lined up opposing,
The least we knew was all it takes:
Who we are,
Where and why we're hold-outs
Explaining how evacuees
Returned uninvited
Will never abandon their homes.


That day and that night
The only certainty
Was that the soldiers
The State's surrogates -- the mercenaries
Would resume the attack
While witnesses had other worries, then
Investigators discovering drug laboratories
Could blame it all on narco riff-raff.


That is why
As night fell
Berta snuck over and went alone
To return next morning
Loaded with our supplies.


After her trip,
Then ten more guys and gals united with us
To resettle stricken New Orleans.


We're here in the Ninth Ward to last.
Tied at the waist
To young flowers
The boys and girls
Of northern colleges,
Our freedom temporarily
Ransomed from a total sorrow.