Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water

For the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Iraq, Aghanistan, Colombia, South Central, North Philly and every other spot on the globe people are resisting the sharp teeth of genocide.

By Walidah Imarisha


There was still water
6 ft deep
in people’s homes
two weeks
after the flood.

Through waters laced
with chemicals
and human excrement
and bloated bodies,
black and brown people
went out every day
to save the kin
left behind,
and discarded.

King George said
“Let them eat flood water”
and they choked
on the watery ashes
of progress.

he said
standing in a small canoe
floating in what remained
of the 7th ward
hands in the air
eyes trained on the hypnotic guns
of three officers
who minutes before had
fired 4 shots
that may or may not
have been warnings
he said
heart heavy in his mouth
“I am looking for the body of my son
Let me find my son’s body.”


The Mississippi River
was dragged in the 60s to find
the bodies of three civil rights workers
by the klan.
dozns of human remains were found
all black         all nameless
they were unimportant
to officials and bureaucracy and media coverage
and “good” race relations
so they were thrown back
to the river.
How many lives were submerged
until they stopped kicking?

The Mississippi is claiming the bodies
of the lynched
once again.


Muddied rings still stain
houses halfway up
and the bodies of rotting dogs
still congeal in the stilted Louisiana sun.
In a town an hour outside of New Orleans
there are still corpses
from their graves,
set free to float down the street.
An old man sits on his porch.
“I built this house
with my hands.
Lived here 58 years
With my wife
until she died two years ago.
I saw her casket
in the waters
two weeks ago.
No one will help me
put her back in the ground
so she can sleep.
Won’t anyone help me?”


Read the graffiti on a house
That was completely surrounded
By water

Three weeks and no FEMA
Three weeks and no relief
Three weeks and no aid

“Yeah, they gave us sumthin,”
the brotha snorted,
dreads coiled and purring on his head.
He was one in boats
every day
taking people to the promised land
of higher ground.
“On the 5th day Red Cross
dropped some hard rock candy
on our heads.
Don’t let them tell you Red Cross
never gave us nuthin.”

And they gave them
National Guard and NYPD and US Foresty Dept.
and the INS and Border Patrol
and state troopers and US Marshalls
and the DEA and NY Corrections Officers
and detachments and battalions
and tanks
and automatic weapons and hummers
and curfew and work camps and concrete floors
and nightsticks
and blood and bullets
Don’t let them tell you they never gave us nuthin.


The water has receded
and the human tide
trickles in.

An oldyoung woman
stands in her decomposing house,
black mold climbing up the walls,
coating baby pictures
and high school diplomas.
Her four daughters
run after their 11 collective children.
The grandmother
holds the youngest in her arms
and he is nothing
but wise eyes and heavy brow.
“Of course I’m staying,”
she hefts the tiny sage to the other hip.
“I don’t know what we will do
but this
is ours.
We won’t leave it.”

And she does not mean the cramped house
and dead yard out front.
She means this spark of hope
but burning out
enuf space
to catch a breath.