Kid Merv and Some Jazz


Saturday before the hurricane

my girlfriend went into labor.

Everybody's leaving town

and we're going uptown to Touro.

My son was born

at 2:13 am Sunday morning

and I was, Wow!

I went through years of music—

Sunshine of my Life, James Brown,

Bob Marley, some jazz,

It's a Wonderful World, some

Brass Band, Curtis Mayfield—

so they were the first songs that my son heard though 

our world had crashed.

Monday night, we went for a walk

and could hear water everywhere—


but we could not

see it and did not know

what was happening. 

People called in to the Mayor on the radio,

asking, Why's the water rising?

Is the levees…is the pumps on?

The pumps are working, sir. 

Mayor Nagin was stalling,

knowing he had a whole set

of people to move out,

as if we were all on Survivor. 

If it been Nebraska or Idaho, everybody

would have been rescued, given thousands

of dollars.  This is the land of the free.




Next day—oo Lordy, it was hot—

the water reached us. 

We had about 5 minutes to evacuate. 

We arrived Wed. night in Phoenix

and it was like a movie

starring Us.  We were

in Green Pastures. 

It was beautiful.  People

showed us around.  The church

I went to, Valley Presbyterian, helped us

with a nice little apartment, a car.

And that was it. 

We were here.

I left everything.

But we were going through

a change.  A year ago today

we're not together.  It's been rough. 

I have a 12 month lease and no gigs.

I don't know what God

has in store for me, but I'm here for a reason.

I can survive.  We've all

been through it.  I come up through

the old tradition.  Never had any

formal training.  Started on the horn at 11,

youngest member of

the brass band at 13.

That's how we did it. 

I'm writing a song for my son,

Hector, named for my father,

a Jamaican seaman, died when I was 11. 

Never heard me play.  Do do do dee dee

dee da zu zu zu za.

I'm calling the song,


Has Anyone Seen Hector? 

Cynthia Hogue

Images by Rebecca Ross


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Kid Merv’s Story