Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems

Mona Lisa Saloy


In this celebration of life in death, Mona Lisa Saloy captures the solemn grief, ongoing struggle, and joyous processions of New Orleans after the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Gary Clark’s interview with Mona Lisa Saloy 

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In this celebration of life in death, Mona Lisa Saloy captures the solemn grief, ongoing struggle, and joyous processions of New Orleans after the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. She knows the music of the neighborhood spoken and sung in affirmation of what is genuine and hopeful, as well as the despair of destruction that nature and politics heaped upon The Crescent City. Saloy’s details of down-home activities and use of local expressions convey the many cultures and voices of this unique city. In this ode to New Orleans there is joy and hope, and a passionate call to join the resilient Second Line.

Mona Lisa Saloy is a poet whose words give us shelter. A poet who has feeding us always on her mind. Keep your starched white dinner napkins for another kind of meal and for guests that eat in a hurry. Bring your hunger for family that still kisses each other at the open door and memory that knows the storm will end and the sun will rise again.

—Nikky Finney

In Second Line, poet Mona Lisa Saloy captures the spirit and cadence of New Orleans. The book is at once a haunting poetic narrative of the horror of Hurricane Katrina and an uplifting, healing song of personal and collective resilience. Saloy tells of muck, stink, doors swollen with water, despair, and bottled-up hurt, while finding hope, sustenance, and solace in familial love, spirituality, and the Creole cultural traditions that nurtured her. Saloy’s artistry is particularly evident in her use of metaphors: “Broke his heart in half like a walnut split down the middle.” And she seasons her aesthetic with Creole vernacularisms such as hucklebucks (frozen drinks) and meliton (mirliton). And naturally, there is the inevitable remix of pulsating music for which the city is famous: Johnny Adams, Fats Domino, and Alan Toussaint. This is a collection of poems that must be read!

—Tony Bolden

“Z’Haricots Rouge”—Red beans and black love. At the heart of Mona Lisa Saloy’s book is an act of interdiction, an interruption of one American language with another. In acts of simultaneous self-translation, these poems find those spaces among tongues where taste turns to truth, “tastes like more.”

—Aldon Lynn Nielsen



See You in the Gumbo
See You in the Gumbo
Sankofa NOLA
Evacuation Blues: This is how we did it

First Line: Requiem for the Crescent City
August Landing & Katrina Hits
On not being able to write a post-Katrina poem about New Orleans
Missing in 2005: New Orleans Neighborhood Necessities
September 2005, New Orleans
When I saw bodies
New Orleans: Broken Not Dead
Post-Katrina Summer, 2007
New Orleans in January
Poems like Cell Phones
For the New Young Bloods on My Porch
Grief and Loss
Iraq by the Numbers
My Race
2 Friends
Meanwhile, back in America

La Vie Créole & Étoufée Talk
Les Pains des Creoles/Creole Breads
Z’Haricots Rouge/Red Beans
For Uncle Herbert
For Herbert Jr.
Katrina Daze
December 2005 at Stephanie’s House
The Day Alzheimer’s Showed
Alzheimer’s, Day Two
She was not a queen, but . . .
Missing Mother
Creole Daddy Ways

Hurricanes & Hallelujahs
Hurricane Days
We Leave Today
Hurricane Signs
Hurricane Lesson #6
New Orleans Archdioceses Announces: Church Closings
Southern Sky
Hurricane Gustav @ JJ’s
Hurricane Lessons: Isaac September & Sandy October

Presidential Poems
God Bless President Obama & the United States of America
The Night America Elected the First Black President
Lincoln in New Orleans, 1831
Four More Years for President Obama

Second Lines: New Orleans Matters
Stolen Moments
Louisiana Lore
New Orleans: More Holy than You Think
This 5th August since Katrina
Sundays in New Orleans
Who hates hurricanes?
100 Thousand Poets for Change
From Lament to Hope
Blessed Be Us
New Orleans, a Neighborhood Nation
New Orleans Matters

About the Author
About the Artist


Author, folklorist, essayist, and poet, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy is professor of English at Dillard University. She previously published Red Beans & Ricely Yours, which won the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Prize in 2006. Saloy’s literary voice represents the African-American and the New Orleans Creole cultural experience.

Mona Lisa Saloy's website



Shreveport Times: "Creole author Mona Lisa Saloy: “I write to speak for those who don’t or can’t”"

AALBC article on Mona Lisa Saloy



Yet, Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems is not only about Hurricane Katrina, even though it permeates much of the collection, it is also about community, family, faith, food, and ultimately, God's grace...Mona Lisa Saloy is a poetic voice for New Orleans.

— Julie E. Hudson, Nola Diaspora, October 2014

Mona Lisa Saloy’s refreshing, “Second Line Home” (2014) is a poetic memoir of her post-Katrina experiences—from her evacuation with friends and neighborhoods to her return, through efforts to rebuild and reoccupy her 7th Ward home handed down to her by her Black Creole father....As a teller of tales in the tradition of New Orleans’ excellent oral storytellers, she uses printed verse to mime the voices and intricacies of life lived fully in the Big Easy.

— Rudolph Lewis, ChickenBones Journal, August 2014

Featured in Music & Entertainment section of Kreol International Magazine (March, 2014). See



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