Rhonda Matthews: A Poem for Katrina Victims Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, poet Rhonda Matthews issues a plea against forgetting about the victims.
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Rhonda Matthews: A Poem for Katrina Victims

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Rhonda Matthews: A Poem for Katrina Victims

Rhonda Matthews: A Poem for Katrina Victims

Rhonda Matthews: A Poem for Katrina Victims

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Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, poet Rhonda Matthews issues a plea against forgetting about the victims.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

I'm Farai Chideya, and this is NEWS & NOTES.

In the last three weeks, Americans have donated more for Hurricane Katrina relief than they did for victims of the September 11th attacks and the South Asian tsunami last winter. But before the victims' desperation fades into memory and the nation's attention turns elsewhere, poet Rhonda Matthews issues this plea against forgetting.

RHONDA MATTHEWS:

Why won't you come see about me? I am right here, so close to you, if you would only turn around and look my way. Don't you care that I am hurting? Don't you care that I can see death whispering over the horizon? I am being suffocated by the pain that is raining down upon me, and truthfully, the pain alone is enough to kill me. The pain of knowing that making it through this storm was only the beginning because even after the darkness of the storm subsided, the daylight of destruction still consumes me and I can't stop screaming. Can't you hear me? Can't you hear me calling out to you, begging you, pleading with you to come rescue me?

With all that is left in me, I beg you to please let God use you right now, wherever you are--in your home, on your job, wherever you are--I beg you to please let God use you. Let God use you to light my way and restore my hope one prayer at a time. Let God use you to free me from this prison I am drowning in. Minute by minute, hour by hour I am grasping for air as my life flashes before my eyes. My tears stain what is left of my spirit. I feel broken. But still I pray. I pray to God that he will send you to rescue me. I know that death has taken hold of me, but with my last breath I am reaching out to you. So please don't turn away from me now when you are so close to finding me.

I understand that you may have trouble believing that you can make a difference. The devastation is so immense, a nightmarish reality. From the outside looking in, you probably don't know where to begin. You don't even believe that you have enough resources to help me. So you watch me on TV, you hear my story, you feel bad for me and even shed a tear for me, but you don't think you have the ability to save me. Don't you realize that your nothing is my everything, right now in this moment? And this moment is all I have. Please don't talk yourself out of trying to rescue me because the longer you allow yourself to wait, to contemplate if you can sustain death's weight that is beginning to overwhelm me, I will slowly pass away like a distant memory. I beg you, please come see about me.

CHIDEYA: Rhonda Matthews is a poet living in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

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