Michael Rothenberg


[Photo by Terri Carrion, March 2009]


Despite day after day of appearance
by President Bush aimed at undoing

       talk about corpses

       Hurricane Katrina
       blew through Hollywood, Florida

the political damage from
a poor response to Hurricane Katrina,

       talk about toxic soup

                Palm fronds

the White House has not been able
to regain its footing,
       talk about mama drowning

       Cane splinters
already shaken by the war in Iraq
and a death toll exceeding 1,880.
       talk about suicide

Mango branches
       on the lawn
The administration on Tuesday struggled
to deflect calls for an accounting
       talk about rotten stench   

       In New Orleans
       hungry mortality

of who was responsible for a hurricane response
that even Bush acknowledged was inadequate

       talk about nothing left

       mushroom, bacon omelet

Even as Katrina was bearing down
on the Gulf Coast that Sunday night

       talk about being lost

       A biscuit at Grandpa’s Diner

and early Monday, Aug. 28-29,
and the national hurricane center was warning

       talk about losing everything

       Skip dinner
       Shell a bowl of peanuts

of growing danger, the White House
didn't alter the president's plans

       talk about too much talk

       Wake late, check news
       New Orleans destroyed

to fly from his Texas ranch to the West
to promote a new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

       talk about corpses

       Why aren't there
       ten thousand rescue helicopters
               flying into New Orleans?

By the time Bush landed in Arizona that Monday,
the storm was unleashing its fury

        talk about toxic soup

       Why can’t an administration
               that says it can rebuild Iraq
       protect it's own people?

on Louisiana and Mississippi.
The president inserted into his speech

       talk about mama drowning

       Don't answer

only a brief promise of prayers and federal help.
He continued his schedule in California,

       talk about suicide

       It’s a race, class issue
       “Boots or books” issue

and he didn't decide until the next day
that he should return to Washington.
talk about rotten stench

       Iraq issue, troops issue!
       Food or security issue?

But it took him another day to get there,
as he flew back to Texas to spend another night
       talk about nothing left

          “It’s human nature!”

at his home before leaving for the White House.
Once the president was in Washington,

       talk about being lost

       Babies sheltered w/ cardboard salvaged
       from wreckage of “policy”

the criticism only intensified.
In a television interview, Bush said - mistakenly –

       talk about losing everything

that nobody anticipated
the breach of the levees in a serious storm.

       talk about too much talk


Even Monday’s trip to the region was a redo,
hurriedly arranged by the White House. . .

        Father says, “A Thousand Points of Light”

       Son says, “The Armies of Compassion”

Bush raised eyebrows on his first trip
by, among other things, picking Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. –

       talk about mama drowning

       Even as we speak. . .

instead of the thousands of mostly poor
and black storm victims – as an example of loss.

       Bicycling medicines
       from pharmacy to catastrophe

       That they would be refugees

“Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house— ” Bush said,
“he’s lost his entire house—there’s going to be a fantastic house.
And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”
Bush gave FEMA chief Brown – the face for many
of the inadequate federal response –

       Aliens in their own country

       Because they’re poor, black, poor, white

a hearty endorsement. "Brownie,
you're doing a heck of a job," Bush said.

       talk about too much talk

       “Making their own situations
       in a dog eat dog world”

Later in Biloxi, Miss.,
Bush tried to comfort two stunned women

       talk about too much talk


wandering their neighborhood
clutching Hefty bags,  looking in vain for something

       talk about too much talk


to salvage from the rubble of their home.
Bush kept insisting they could find help

       talk about too much talk

       “Flood victims”

at a Salvation Army center down the street,
even after another bystander informed him

       talk about too much talk

       talk about corpses

it had been destroyed.
And at his last stop that day,

            talk about too much talk

       “It’s time for Bush to go”

at the airport outside of New Orleans,
Bush lauded the increasingly desperate city
as a great town because he used to go there
and “enjoy myself—occasionally too much.”

       talk about too much talk

       whine, whine
       go away
       come again another day

       alk about corpses

       maybe ten thousand      corpses

       talk about too much talk

              too much, too much

       I look outside
           Crows in the mango tree