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?
Images by Rebecca Ross