Poet, in his own words

Friend Jeff Noland, poet and activist from Chicago, is now in the New Orleans area working with Habitat for Humanity.

Here is the poet, in his own words, from his myspace post:

well. here i am. st. bernard parish. new orleans.

first things first. for the benefit of those of you who might think that pulling off the road and heading down here on the bus is some sort of failure, i offer the following:

walk the walk ain’t about one foot in front of the other for 927 miles.

to walk the walk is to do what i can do to the best of my ability.

fact is many people have different ideas about what should or should not means, about what could or could not means, about what oughta be and about what should be.

truth is: ideas are a great place to start. but they are only a start. the reality of living is found in the sweat and the time and the effort and the doing. the rest? talk.

i will have much more to say about this subject once i have time to chew on everything i have had the honor to experience while on the road. soon i will offer road stories about all the wonderful people i have been honored to share time with.

but, now? it is time for me to do what i can do with a hammer or a paint brush in hand. time to frame or roof a house or hang some drywall or paint. do demolition or build. whatever bob from Habitat has for me to do.

second thing? the fact of the matter is i know from the doing that i could have made every single step with backup within the time i have to devote and the resources i allocated. i had hoped that such backup would materialize. after all i live in a country with 300 million people in it. that's a pretty big pool of talent and time to draw from. but it didnt work out the way i hoped once i got beyond the reach of the people i know.

so? fair enough. sometimes the answer we get to our hopes is “no.” accept and move on to what can be done.

so. i am typing this as i sit at the fold-up table in a FEMA trailer in the front yard of a person who rebuilt his own house with his own two hands. that FEMA trailer? call it what it is. a camper, friends. fun for a road trip. not a place to rear a family. not a home.

today, i walked the block i am to live on here in st. bernard parish. the number of houses with lights on, being lived in are far outnumbered by those that have neither lights on nor cars in the driveway. i am about to walk it again in the dark to try to learn better this silence where it should not be silent. i will have much more to say soon.

now? what i see here calls out for hands. for boots on the ground. it is just so damn big this desolation that Katrina brought.

this said? new orleans and the parishes and i all have a question for the rest of America:

where the heck are you?

that said? from here on out this story becomes about a different kind of doing. my best to all of you reading this. follow the link below to learn about st. bernard parish, please. sleep well. more soon.

poet out.


Before Katrina, the population of St. Bernard Parish, La., was 67,229. In October 2006, the population was estimated to be a little more than 25,000. LINK

One of those St. Bernard houses, sitting empty in Chalmette and rotting away from water damage was the new home of my nephew and his wife, Van and Anna Turner. Van was employed in the gift shop of the new D-Day Museum in NOLA, editing its online catalog. Anna was an officer at Hibernia Bank. They returned once to their home to retrieve what could be washed clean of mud and mold, then relocated to Montgomery, Ala.

Just one of the St. Bernard stories.

B. J. out.


Follow Jeff’s daily Habitat for Humanity diary and read the stories from his walk on his myspace site: LINK


Anonymous said...

Thomas Wolfe was right, as Sir Cumspect so eloquently describes her family members.
The City of Orleans has always offered a libation, a taste of something rich and smooth, which is only a mirage. Frodo hopes the Poet is not seduced, that he takes his task to the hearts and minds of those whom he serves, not the world of which he dreams.

Sir Cumspect said...

The poet will be OK. He has an existential gyroscope which helps him keep his balance. Besides, the boy tended bar for a long time - doing it clean and sober.

airth10 said...

"the reality of living is found in the sweat and the time and the effort and the doing."

Jeff is so right, the essence of life is in the doing, not in the having or the finishing but in the doing.