Poem by Anne Whitehouse


 

New Orleans

In this city the Church had dominion over the dead,
but the dead would not stay buried.
They rose up out of the ground
when the river overflowed and the ground turned to water.
Fevers, vapors, and miasmas swirled and circulated,
the air so humid it was another form of water.
Pale, wide, and muddy, the river loomed in our dreams
and in our lives, and the earth opened up,
spilling out pestilence.

It’s a wonder that anyone remained
after the floods and epidemics,
the storms and hurricanes,
but the city was hard to leave once its charms ensnared you
like those shimmering gossamer webs of sunlight
that hang over the heavy magnolia leaves
after a rain clears the late afternoon
and the sky turns pink. In old, high-ceilinged rooms
with their heavy crown moldings,
fans mimic a breeze, and the rows of shotgun houses
are swept by breezes, front to back.

A repass outside a funeral home after a burial
spills its exuberance onto the street.
People are drinking and swaying
to the blaring euphonies of a brass band
in free-form improvisation.
Death and sadness are right there,
but a bright band of frenzy
has trapped the despair and contained it,
and the only notes we hear are those of joy.

 

Artwork © Ira Joel Haber

 

Poet, fiction writer, journalist, and critic Anne Whitehouse’s books include poetry collections The Surveyor’s Hand (Compton Press), Blessings and Curses (Poetic Matrix Press), One Sunday Morning (Finishing Line Press), The Refrain (Dos Madres Press), Bear in Mind (Finishing Line Press), Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press) and Fall Love (novel). Recent poetry and fiction publications include The Write Place at the Write Time, Works & Days, Oddball Magazine, Art from Art (anthology), Istanbul Poetry Review, Pain and Memory and Being Human: Call of the Wild (anthologies), riverbabble, Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, and others. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer,photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows bothin the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.

 

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