Hurricane Katrina, August 28, 2005
When The Saints Go Marching In
“Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
I want to be, be in that number
Oh, when the saints go marching in”
Despite the many trials
and tribulations of black folks
here in America, as a means of survival
my people have learned to laugh and smile
in the face of adversity.
We have learned to weather our storms
with such a calming grace, and a quiet resilience;
more resilient than those broken levees
that eventually gave way to the wind, pushing
the ever-rising tide of racism to the shores
of black lives, that truly didn’t matter to anyone.
More resilient than the man-made storm
slamming its treacherous winds against
the black landscape of Louisiana’s poor;
for Hurricane Katrina was an angry storm
a woman scorned who cried crocodile tears
with flooding rains that suddenly came
sweeping down upon my people like:
ethnic cleansing. Scores of black bodies,
floating down canal street,
a watery grave, a watery parade, a funeral procession.
The Fat lady sang the blues for them amidst the thunderous sound
of lightning ablaze with ten thousand trumpets ringing from the heavens
an eerie rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”
Though the saints never came! The saints never came!
FEMA never came!…..FEMA never came for the lowly ninth ward.
New Orleans, black poor. Rescue efforts paused.
So many died, when they didn’t have to, but FEMA never came!
FEMA- never- came!…..Humanity never came.
Prince A. McNally is a Brooklyn-born poet, writer, and philosopher whose poetry and prose focuses primarily on the human condition, love and social injustice. His poems have appeared in Dissident Voice, TUCK Magazine, Leaves of Ink, and The Blue Mountain Review as well as the following anthologies: The World Poets Open Mic: 2016 Anthology, National Beat Poetry Festivals 10 Year Anthology: BEAT-ITUDE, and the National Beat Poetry Foundation: WE ARE BEAT. Prince’s work has also been translated in the Italian Anthology: AMERICANS AND OTHERS by way of Camion Press, Turin Italy 2019. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry. Enjoy more samples of Prince’s work by following him on FB, Twitter @princeamcnally and Instagram @prince_thepoet.
Watch the Clara Ward Singers perform “When The Saints Go Marching In” (Antibes, France; 1962)