Sneaking Certainty

by Ross J. Peterson

If it wasn't a suspicion
Why would she sneak?

This disaster-zone held; unfathomed.
Without solutions found
Outside illusions.
It was a struggle
To get in or out
Without a ruse.

We were testing the periphery
As the state troopers amassed.
Finding weakness in their lines
For others to pass

A single individual crossing
In or out of New Orleans
Became our geometry,
Our map,
Of alternate supply lines.

Of course there was suspicion
In the air we breathed, but
less in our camp, we hoped,
than in their ranks.

The enemy more rag-tag than us,
Out where their military brass
Dressed in civvies like CSN
Just as frantic to get the news
Most likely shitting in their pants
Worrying what would come down
Next, when or if it finally happened.

A final fully armed American solution
If these locals got their chance
To stomp some "nigger-lovin' ass
Once and for all", like they said they would.

Surrounding us, cornering us rats
In the midst of our devastated worlds on roofs
Or muck-soaked shacks, the bones of what
Both whites and blacks once called home --
Now our cross-sprayed, filth-pocked property

Land smothered, land
We never, ever could declare we owned
Clear title to when
Uncle Sam and Jim Crow or, especially,
Daddy Big-War-Bucks came around.

The strategists on their side
Shit because it looked like oh so many,
Any other bloodbath certainty
For Instant Replay
On their national broadcast news.

Yet who would or who could control
The mercenaries,
The Blackwater boys,
Hired to protect rich properties,
So far from homes
In South Africa, Tel Aviv and Des Moines?

Our clearest-headed sons
Who you would choose
As leaders
Were not on drugs, yet

Late at night were as confused
By muses and images,
Memories of other sieges
Seized their minds

As they talked late at night
All tied in knots they unravelled
Trying to distinguish past
From present, from the future battles.

No strategy, no objective loomed as clear
As the check-points
All of us encountered
And circumvened
Drawn along the fragile levies.

With two sides lining up
The least we knew was everything:
Who we were,
Where and why
We'd come back
To stay and never leave.

That day and that night
The only certainty
Was that the army, someone
Would eventually attack
And, without witnesses, attempt
To blame it all on riff-raff.

That is why
As night fell
She snuck across alone
And that morning
Came back with supplies
And ten more comrades joined our fight
To resettle New Orleans
Right here in Ward 9.

© Ross Peterson
[email protected]