Thursday, July 20, 2006

Goodbye, Camp Crazy!

in one week i've seen the hurling swollen refuse of katrina's beaches,
facing hotels and motels new and old advertising new rooms and old slogans,
gutted lobbies stripped beneath multilevel buildings, leaving structures that balance precariously on stilted girders
when i arrived here one of the old-timers greeted my friend and me, bald and leathery
'welcome to camp crazy!'

out in back, the tent communities are pitched
crazy in the heat, sweat, and bacterium--
us volunteers walk around with a constant sweaty and mite-y effluvium
and holler hellos and YEAHS and whoops across cafeterias/common areas/sleeping quarters
all bunched into one.
vagrants and poor approach the facilities near daily looking
for food and toilet paper or someone to install the new wood they've finally got
we turn all away.
long-termers are defined by thick lines
across copper skins, overburned.
the burn-outs eventually leave,
replenished by the bright faces of summering college students
and city teachers,
and the privileged urban activists like your humble writer here...

my first day i worked on restoring the summer home of jefferson davis, the first and only president of the confederate states!
the last type of home restoration i had in mind.
i've done some better work since.
the poor colored folk ride on
bikes through the sweltering air
and hang on park benches down the way
across from fema trailers that are packed and identical and barren beyond the locked doors
they tell you it's a cold white shame for their long temporary residents.

change and rebirth are a long way
but as the dinner crew will tell you
'don't stop believing.'
well i'm leaving--
and i do believe
the people here are of those greatest things humankind
will prize on its canon of acheivements,
and goodness is contagious.
through our giving courses the natural blood of the universe!
so keep your battling, for Change, for Good,
against fatigue, against madness and devils--
this is one hell of a place!

keep it good, camp katrina.

-Ash, a short termer (

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