End of Forever by Valentine Pierce

Valentine Pierce is a New Orleans writer, poet, performance artist and graphic designer. Her poetry book Geometry of the Heart was published by Portals Press in 2007. Her poems have been has been published in anthologies throughout the country, including Callaloo, YAWP: a Journal of Poetry & Art, Maple Leaf Rag III, Xavier Review, New Laurel Review, Black Diaspora, Aura Literary Review, Comstock Review, and From a Bend in the River. Pierce was the Writer-In Residence at A Studio in the Woods, June 2006. She also has presented her works on a variety of stages across the country, and in New Orleans, including the Maple Leaf, 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series at The Gold Mine, DramaRama, WRBH Writers' Forum in New Orleans, State of the Nation in Jackson, MS, Rhythm and Music Poetry Series in Berkeley, CA, International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, and Jump Start in San Antonio, TX.

End of Forever

We all thought it would be there forever our quirky, dream-laden city,
Its narrow streets, brick sidewalks, and two-hundred-year-old architecture
Full of desperate people with big plans, small hopes, no money,
Full of conniving politicians with padded pockets, false friends, hollow hearts.
This new century, we believed, was rich with promise,
Destined to bring a better life to a half million people.
We rejoiced, set our hearts for that new day,
Made our plans to live well, live long, live better.
Today, the living are more than 1,000 shy, more than 300 of those
Unknown, unnamed in a makeshift morgue miles and miles from home,
Their spirits walk the empty streets of a city that once teemed
With laughter, with love, with tragedy, trouble
All manner of things that tied us to them.
The rest of us are scattered to the four corners
No lives, no liberties, no pursuits, happy or otherwise.
Today we are besieged by grief, our beleaguered sorrow smeared
In the muddied ruins of our homes and habitats.
At times, we are dazed, confused.
Perhaps this is just one long, horrible nightmare,
Some strange episode of the Twilight Zone.
But when we awake after a night of fitful sleep,
Open our eyes to the morning sun in some other city,
We know, we know it is true.
Our city is a forsaken wasteland, its wonder washed away
By the surging storms of government neglect,
And we, we are homeless, scattered by the winds,
Left to wallow in a misery we did not cause.
(How did I become an expatriate?)
Even those of us who lived lost our lives.
"Born, raised, and hope to die here," we used to say.
Today our words haunt us and we attempt to rearrange them, revise them:
"Born, raised, and hope to live again," we now say, "in New Orleans."