Red Stains

The day the city let us back in,
we went to help.
Driving through mud covered alleys,
landfill streets.

Doors covered with red paint
 0 Dead  1  2.
Trapped inside,
survivors wait for rescue.

Wade into a home
about to collapse.
A dog floats by.
Tears well  
ashamed a dead
animal stirs more
emotion.

Dirty diapers decompose,
stench fills the house.
Rub chew on upper lip
 the smell is better
than decay.

Trailers spread over
suburban lawns.
Temporary homes will last for
months, years.
Broken families wait
for checks.

Homes still crumble,
waterlines still mark walls.
Death stained doors.


A fitting reblog. I wrote this poem during my college years, and edited/rewrote it a year ago for this blog. After a few more tweaks, I decided to use this poem for a flash fiction challenge (breaking the rules a tad!), for two reasons. 1) This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an event I experienced first-hand living a few hours from New Orleans at the time. 2) The flash fiction challenge’s theme this week pertained to an extreme weather event and calls for help.

Dang, does this poem bring back some memories…


This blog post is part of Charli Mill’s Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Carrot Ranch Communications. August 26, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the need for help in an extreme weather event. Is the help local or global? Does it arrive or the plea go ignored? It doesn’t have to be fire. Think about extreme weather occurrences and consequences.

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3 thoughts on “Red Stains

  1. I can understand how this poem brings back memories because you wrote this so vividly. The detail…oh, my…not good memories, but someone had to witness such suffering. That it happened on American soil — not the hurricane but the neglectful aftermath — is a greater tragedy. “Broken families/ wait for checks.” Helping hands were what they needed, human hugs, a responsive government…Thanks for sharing this!

  2. A very moving poem Christina. I can understand the distress at the dead dog – you had to control yourself over the people . Such a horrific aftermath of the Hurricane and still not fully restored. I hope you are okay after experiencing it. When we went to disasters with red cross they always had debriefing and professionals to help with the stress it could give the helper.

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