Monday, April 20, 2009

On The Murders of Calyisse and Fitzgerald, SUNO Students, NOLA

I have written a poem-prayer that came from my trying to process the senseless deaths of Calyisse Perkins and Fitzgerald Phillips, both 19 and students at Southern University New Orleans. They pair dated, and in the wee hours of Sunday morning, April 19, two thugs abducted them and sent a request for $10,000 ransom via Phillips' cell phone to the parents. Today NOLA police discovered the teens' bodies in an abandoned house in Gert Town, and despite the police saying earlier that was no drug connection, today they say Phillips may have known his and Calyisse's murderers through a marijuana connection. Read earlier blog post/story here.

Greek Tragedy in Black
By Nordette Adams

I saw her on the news this morning,
Calyisse's mother, pleading for her daughter's safe return.
She could not understand why anyone would harm
her baby, 19, who'd hurt no one. And
this mother had no money to pay ransom.

Their lives held promise, young lovers in college,
but I am guilty of a hopeless heart.
I did not believe Calyisse breathed.
Nor had faith Fitzgerald, the boyfriend, lived.
The stench of a killer's lies lingered,
to ask for ransom when the body's cold.

And Sheila Reneau, the mother, wept. And I wept
when they found the bodies hidden in an empty Gert Town house,
two black teens murdered by two black adult males and cast
into an abandoned shack like garbage.

Lord, You sit high but look low.
and see that the heart of man makes evil.
You, the Creator of all.
And you say to us Fear not.

Forgive me, Lord. I am afraid.
Forgive me, Lord. I am angry.
Forgive me, Lord. I want blood--
an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth--
My heart trembles with rage at this evil done to teens
dreaming dreams.

And my heart gazes at the mountaintop, looking for
her mother and his mother, and our brothers and sisters,
our aunts and uncles, for the circle of elders.

We seek a place of solace, sanctuary
from this Evil that roams our streets,
drunk on our children's blood.

The streets of Gert Town howl a too-familiar blues.
Souls fold over sobbing, ripping with wails.
Houses flood with wailing mothers' tears,
and NOLA's soul goes low, almost into the coffin.

I should go to these women and add my tears to a river in Gert Town.
I should find Sheila Reneau and hold her to me.
I should find Fitzgerald's people and let
our grief flow into the streets, swell and flood the city until
our tears reach Your throne.

She is every mother and I am every mother.
We bury our faces in hands ill equipped to fight.
We see a new monster. We have not seen so hideous a creature before
that jigs down our streets, picking the fruit of our womb from its teeth
with our ancestors' bones.

I hold my children to to my breast,
chilled at the rustlings of death.
But Calyisse's mother is missing a daughter
and Fitzgerald's mother is missing a son.

We crawl through blackness listening for a flutter of wings.
Send angels, Lord. Let them bring us flaming swords.

(c) 2009 Nordette Adams


  1. Thank you for this, I had the intention of writing a poem earlier today for them but the constant flow of tears has flooded my train of thought. I am crying now. I never met Calyisse,but Fitz( he perfered to be called that) was my friend....I am so sad.

  2. You're welcome, Goldenchild. I don't know any of the people involved, but this story had me crying off and on as well. My prayers are with the families.

    Thank you, Susan, for your "amen."