After Katrina

Does Katrina mean pure as in pure hell

or is it the new nick-name for global warming?

Like Adolph, it will fall from favor

with expecting parents.

To me, it’s a bouncy-sounding name:

I see my Katrina dancing,

a farm girl from Belgium or Holland

caught up in a Brueghel painting,

in what Williams called “rollicking measures,”

her skirt twirling like a roulette wheel,

a discus thrown from Biloxi.

But under her skirt are the whirling floaters,

the human flotsam outstretched

like starfish and — spinning, spinning

into the Gulf of Mexico

and across the Atlantic waters.

Washed out of the prisons and nursing homes,

the working-class neighborhoods

(and the neighborhoods without work),

the dockside warehouses, the brothels.

the churches and schools, — and streaming now,

each a little whirlpool of abated life,

a mandala of grief.

I imagine Katrina’s energy,

her benign urge to fulfillment,

the twists and turns of her swerving hips,

and her inevitable dissolution,

and I find that energy returning now

as pinwheel corpses revolve past

the drilling platforms and steer themselves

eastward, bumping against Miami

and then out to the vast, jazzed-up sea.

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