Open Mic (H – J)

Traffic
by William Haas

Before the car door flattened him, the bike messenger swore he’d never drive. Now his Honda Accord idles in stalled traffic. Stitched along a line of brake lights, his car is a single scale on a steel serpent that straddles the horizon and swallows its own tail. As greenhouse heat gathers, freon cools his skin.

Concrete blood has seized the American Uroboros. A final spasm injects into its veins synthetic stone, crushed seashells, and shale. Time passes. The serpent lies silently, scales tough as bark on a petrified fir. No parasites feast on the stone flesh. Bodies trapped behind windshields have long since dissolved.

A vulture circles, drawn not by the stench—there is none—but by the sudden shape, coiled like a firework snake, carbon black and stiff, one vast and legless trunk. Wind shear shapes the sands beneath—ripples, wavelets, dunes of dust.

–”Traffic” first appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of Dark Mountain. Issue two arrives this summer. Find out more at http://www.dark-mountain.net/.

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I Am Water
by Jacqueline Haessly

I am water.
I come forth as a trickle from the headwaters of the earth,
bubbling, springing forth, clear, crystal, life-giving.

I am water
gathering into pools and ponds, creeks and streams;
cascading down crevices; from mountain peaks;
flowing ever downward, outward
toward the rivers, the lakes, the sea.

I am water.
I touch the earth and I am one with the earth.
I am the life force of the earth and of all life
that shares space on this small blue planet.
I quench the fires that burn, then bring new life to the soil.
I am carried by the wind to the airs above,
only to fall again to nourish the land.

I am water.
I have flowed freely for tens of thousands of years.
I give refreshment to those who thirst.
I give cleansing to those who toil.
I give healing to those who hurt.

I am water.
Sailors and doves know the calm and the force of my power.
Animals lap at my shore.
Women wash in my streams
while children delight in their play.
All gather at my shores to share their stories, cleanse their bodies,
heal their wounds, and refresh their soul.

I am water.
I am bounded by dams,
and the people and the land thirst.
I am polluted by waste,
and the children have no place to play.
I am part of the new development,
and the women can no longer gather from the source.

I am water.
I have flowed freely for tens of thousands of years.
Once I was pure, clean, crystal, beautiful.
I gave life.
I call out to you.

I am water.
Cleanse me! Purify me!
Share me!
I am water!

–Jacqueline Haessly, Ph. D. works as a Peace Education Specialist, teaching, consulting, coaching and writing about themes related to peace with justice.

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OIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
By Ned Haggard

The bleached, blue sky reaches far beyond,
the sun blazes upon a silver sea,
the waters lick the Gulf’s sand gold
shores;
oil goop, thick in goblets,
thick in strings line their reach.
Beneath the distant, choppy
waves unstoppable oil
pours, pours, pours;
open water “dead spots” anticipated,
oil mists hang in depths suspended.
Oh dread, profits fly away on seagull wings
As oil continues belching from
the seafloor breach.
Life in varied forms,
life that swims,
life that crawls,
life that flies
dies miserably,
dies needlessly.
Livelihoods that line the shore
die just as wretchedly;
store fronts closed,
lifeless trawlers tethered to salt weathered piers,
small businesses wither,
temperatures rise,
foreclosures threaten.
“Let’s drill deeper, then deeper still.
There’s money deep beneath those waves.
Tree huggers, what a joke, the environment
cycles naturally, you know! Those fools!”

The waters lick the Gulf’s sand gold
shores;
oil goop, thick in goblets,
thick in strings line the shores.
Beneath the distant, choppy
waves unstoppable oil
pours, pours, pours;
open water “dead spots” anticipated,
oil mists hang in depths suspended.
Oil spreads its reach: Bahamas,
Florida coast,
Atlantic shore…
“Let’s drill some more!”

–Ned Haggard has canvassed for Greenpeace, raising funds for their eco-activism. He has been driving a Toyota Prius since 2006 and intends his next new car to be an all-electric vehicle. His goal is to be 100% green as soon as financial viablility allows. He participated in a creative writing program in poetry at Harvard University in 1999 . A prize-winning poet, his work has appeared in a university chapbook series, several anthologies (Off the Cuffs! Soft Skull Press, NYC and The Best of Chicago Poetry 2006, chicagopoetry.com: Chicago), and numerous literary journals (Bohemian Chronicle, Maryland Review, Ebbing Tide, Santa Barbara Review, Grasslands Review, and Kaledioscope, among them). He has read before audiences from Dublin , Ireland to Santa Monica , California . The Weave of the Sea, a collection of poetry was published in 2008 by EbonyEnergy Publishing, Inc., a multi-cultural publisher in Chicago. He is currently at work on a new collection of poems, tentatively titled, We Are the People of Life.

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The Beach, the Beach, we’re going to the Beach

The blue and aqua ripples of the Gulf of Mexico

The sky, the sand, the healing I always know

NASTY OIL SLICK; IT MAKES ME SICK!

–Sunny Rosse Haggard

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Poem
by Gwen Hall

My Mind touches downlike the Tornado
in the Midwest of our Nation
A whirlwind of anger & confusion
grounding out in devastation

They say that the Gulf is Bleeding
Straight to the Heart it Rips
To Bare witness to the articles I am reading
of my country’s Wildlife Apocalypse

Behold our beloved Creation
too incomprehensible to comprehend,
all the life laid to waste by CorpOration
the pain, the death & the stench

I remember in the Book of Revelation
similar to Moses’ Flood
that a sign for our times would be
when the Waters turn to Blood

What measure of demise lay out before us??
Do we even have the instruments to fathom the scope?
or is like Guatemala’s sinkhole
where despair swallows whole all hope?

a violent windstorm whirling in a collective body of pain
attempting to engage the destruction in a world that has gone insane

They say there is an Eye at the Center
Is it Spirit in the midst of the Storm
Would, that I could, find the Master within
to lead me to this Inner Calm

microbursts of elemental chaos increasing a volatile earth
oh man & your triumphs of science! what tragedies you have birthed!

-Gwen Hall

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August & April
by Charlotte Hamrick

I have no poetry in me.

It’s been sucked out by creeping
oily blackness and looming
anniversaries. My head thrums
with a dull ache deep in the lining
of my brain, buried in the neurons
and electrons that spark anew
with each slimy image and
watery recollection.

Frown lines furrow my forehead as
if marked by oil laden wings dragged
through the sand. The tic in my left
eye jerks like the beat of frantic fists
on attic timbers.

I have no poetry in me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

–Charlotte Hamrick began writing her poetry on paper in the mid-90′s after a lifetime of creating it only in her head. Her poetry has recently been published online in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Electronic Poetry Network and St. Somewhere. She lives and writes in New Orleans.

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Gulf War
by Gary Hardaway

Someone’s ass should be kicked.
But as we’ve learned, the body
Corporate has so many asses,
whole nations would be depleted
finding and kicking each deserving cheek.

“It’s only business” spills from mouths
well trained in the art of dissembling.
“It’s nothing personal, of course,
Louisiana, Alabama, Florida.
But it’s your own thirst that does you in.

You demand this sticky toast
to economic health and we deliver.”
Barrels and barrels pouring down
our throats, a black communion, sans Host.

– Gary Hardaway is an architect and poet. A native Texan, Hardaway lives on the flatlands of North Texas with his wife, writer JP Reese. His work has been published at Manifold, Gumball Poetry, the IBPC, and he has a poem in the current issue of Connotation Press. Hardaway’s chapbook Not for Profit is forthcoming from SilkwormsInk. Hardaway is a member of The Academy of American Poets.

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This is For the Ones That Didn´t Get Away
By Jay Harden

This is for the ones
That didn´t get away
Grown large over time
Escaping nets
Fame spread around school and
In tales of old fishermen

This is for the ones
That didn´t get away
Jumping over boats
Shiny flips
Teasing adversaries and their sons
Just a glint
On the horizon dips

This is for the ones
That didn´t get away
Blackened not
By Creole mens´hands
But crude oil barons
Shoving barrels
Tearing at our backs
Giving protegé commands

–Jay Harden was raised between mississippi river and highway 61. He is restless adventurer currently leaving Barcelona,Spain after eight years.

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A Pissed Off Bird
By Kelly A. Harris

We were here first
flying in the open of God’s pulled curtains,
the fifth day to be exact. You weren’t invited;
it was a private globe, a waltz of land and sea.
At night, the hush was perfect, a royal sky of stars.
Water swayed and glowed like a neck of diamonds.
A rich, green Earth given to your hands.
The swelling bloomed: brick upon brick,
truckloads of malls and fast food huts. Bulldozers
ripping ground to build towers of ego.
The air is an electric tightrope—
try swerving in a congested sky.
At least the dinosaurs kept the smoke in their mouths.
You shoot for trophies and pluck for hats.
Honk, if you want us to leave. In the mornings,
we are not singing your praises.
Chirping is how we swear at God for sharing, the plan
was never pandemonium. Nests are evicted, planes
and dare devils imitate us. Should have known
you would shoot for the moon. It’s all a blast, a lovely
disaster. How fashionable— yellow swamp boots in oil
to rescue our dead. Latte straws and potato chip
bags stick to our swimming. You recycle you
until the only smell is bone.

–Kelly Harris, a Cleveland, Ohio native relocated in New Orleans in 2008 for love. The Cave Canem fellow is a MFA graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her work has appeared in Yale’s Caduceus and The Southern Women Review. She serves on the board of http://www.stairnola.org

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SYNONYM FOR OIL, SYNONYM FOR DISASTER
by Shayla Hawkins

Government officials say
the greed is under control

The greed is now suffocating mangroves,
turtles, dolphins and birds
along Louisiana’s coast

BP execs deny the existence
of two six-mile wide plumes of greed
floating beneath the Gulf waters

The plan is to capture
most of the spewing greed

That salvaged greed
could generate
more than $1.4 million in revenue
for BP each day

Tar balls of greed have now been spotted
along the white sand beaches
of the Florida panhandle

Computer models show the greed
could wind up on the East Coast
and get carried toward Europe

50 days, and the greed still flows
with no signs of stopping

The greed is moving
The greed is spreading

Scientists speculate
that this eruption of greed
could continue every day
for the rest of our lives

–Shayla Hawkins has published poetry, interviews, book reviews and essays in, among other publications, Carolina Quarterly, Aunt Chloe, Yemassee, Poets & Writers Magazine, tongues of the ocean, and Calabash. Ms. Hawkins won The Caribbean Writer’s 2008 Canute A. Brodhurst Prize in Short Fiction and the 2010 John Edgar Wideman Microstory Contest. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.

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Black Tea
by Janet Hawtin

Another mad tea party, more discarded cargo.
These people seem so keen to throw their wealth away.
This time thick black tea, more blinding than squid ink
haemorrhages irreplaceable history over a living ecology.
 

Many thousands of feet below, the blackness is summoned.
Slick ichor gushes, a film of floating night faces the sun.
Indelible mascara lines eyes and mouths,
living and dead, foaming like Owen’s soldiers.

The suits mine the language for maybes and alibis.
I can’t find a tear for these children of Midas.
What irrational economics could hide the epic costs
of this wanton destruction.

If the oil did not kiss the beaches, but fed the
atavistic engines of growth obsessed industry
would that be a nicer result? What mortality then?
Diffuse, defensible destruction and short term profits.

Other species which choose an all you can eat lifestyle
find themselves in patterns of plague and attrition.
Only a matter of time before this insatiable binge
results in our own extraction.

Janet Hawtin keeps a blog, Cranky Mango.

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We are Water
by Marilyn Hazelton

complaint carried by birdcall
tonight reminding,
reminding

we come from oceans
vasser,
old as meteor showers
maji,
pounding earth
voda,
four billion years ago
woda,
turning a hunk of rock
vann
into our blue home

ancient memory
uji
calls out to us
gui
in its woundedness
ura
to admit complicity,
jal
ignorance
yei
laziness
wai
ingratitude

if we do not
amane
remember
amanzi
ourselves
ama
we will be
tubig
forgotten

vasser (Yiddish), maji (Swahili), voda (Bosnian, Corsican, Croatian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sobota, Ukranian), woda (Polish) vann (Norwegian), uji (Albanian), gui (Barbara), ura (Basque), jal (Bengali), yei (Burmese),wai (Hawaian),amane (Berber), amanzi (Zulu) ama (Cherokee), tubig (Tagalog)

–Marilyn Hazelton grew up on the shore of Lake Erie as it was being poisoned. That destruction of marine life through heavy industrial pollution in the 1960s and ’70s led to the Clean Water Act of 1972. Marilyn is a poet, essayist, and a teaching artist in schools and institutions. She is the editor and publisher of red lights, an international tanka journal. Her poems have been published in Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place, and Notes from the Gean.

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Oil
by Kevin Heaton

The “Grim Reaper”waves his hand
across teeming vastness, turning
life giving essence into Wormwood,
snatching devastation from jaws
of plenty.

Great mammal ships of the deep,
captained by flightless, oil-dipped
Albatross spew awful issue from petrol
lungs onto the marred face of bitter
waters passing over ghost town
coral reef coasts, baptising shoreline
in names of a toxic Trinity.

– Kevin Heaton currently lives in South Carolina, formerly from Oklahoma where he published Country Music. He has just completed his first full volume of poetry entitled: “Harahey”. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Foliate Oak. Elimae, Grey Sparrow Journal, WestWard Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, MB Herald, Sacred Journey, Kansas Poems, Reunions Magazine, Hanging Moss Journal, Counterexample Poetics, Little Balkans Review, and others.

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Sad Birds
by George Held

The photos of oil-marinated gulls
And pelicans dying in the Gulf,
Make me want to see Tony Hayward
Of BP also floating in the shallows


Completely coated with his product,
A stunned look in his oil-glazed eyes,
His rich thick Oxbridge hair stuck
In place with his own tarry gunk,

His hairless baby skin slicked black
With oil, a drop falling from his beak
As he looks pitifully for succor
From the volunteer wildlife rescuers,

Who size him up for triage and say,
“This sad bird is too far gone to save.”

 

–George Held

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untitled
by Michael Helsem

Shackles of the gulf
swirl brown-black spillage,
bestow perdurable grief…

Shackles of the gulf
bear the mark of the wolf
trotting to broader pillage.

Shackles of the gulf
swirl brown-black spillage.

M.H. was born in Dallas in 1958. Shortly thereafter, fish fell from the sky.

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Driving the Causeway
by John Hennessy

High tide and salt grass hid the causeway, road
sinking instead of rising then. Don’t think
this dharmic figure, vatic drivel, the slowed
but luminous path, eight-fold horizon. Shrink

the sky until it’s all black-hole and nothing flies,
until it fits inside a shoreman’s fist—
at least a thousand things to do, the lie’s
the limit, with that still-contracting brick—

and there you have it, the causeway’s first effect.
How far from brake to rest; I couldn’t move,
I couldn’t even start to trace the wreck
from path’s beginning to drawbridge end, improve

the honeymoon from gravedigger’s bed—cold, wet,
a place that death approaches, but hasn’t been
to yet. I’d paint it, if I could, and let
the picture of a crashing car stand in.

–John Hennessy

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Fire and Oil
words & music by Moss Henry

1) There’s fire in the Gulf, fire and oil
Exploding out of the well
It’s a huge slick poisoning the water
Like a scene right out of Hell

Chorus
Now we got fire and oil, fire and oil, fire and oil

2) The drilling rig was state of the art
They said nothing could go wrong
But somebody got greedy and somebody got careless
The need for speed was so strong Chorus

Bridge
There’s so much pressure to make a buck
Time is money they say
They’re gamblers without any limits
And they just love to play Chorus

3) I see the film and I feel this rage
The devastation wounds my soul
What we need here is a judge and jury
To put the bastards down in the hole Chorus

–Moss Henry 2010

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Of Wind & Water
By Robbin Hernon

Absent provocation came a rumbling reminder;
a feverish wheeze belching in torrents
with iron and airfall ash; a Vulcan lit backfire
that blotted out from the sun the way
of wings; the wind ushering its chattel
spread low the coal black cloak; the flocks,
sheep and deer fell with ad hoc night, the air
unable to sip; the blotted blue sky: one cloud a vacuous stare.

From down under slick black jelly, as cut from an artery
disgorges in excess; rash and rank in deep depths, burnished
tan and swollen with lumpfish on its face; the sea-air
writhes its fume; the merchant coast recoils swiftly
reeling its empty net; the slippery slog drifts
the wave-stir, slips the silly tugboat screen;
its poisonous puss stroking the plush shore, but then
whorishly bums back against the reeds to bleed.

Fathom nature’s singular flight of a lone black bird
in the wind; the dip and glide graceful; its arc and swoop
forbidding; landing a cunning maneuver; sleek
form in sudden reversal with barbed tentacles; both
black wings swell in concert, a final curtain call,
then collapse in neat folds, compacted and pierce
menace-eyed; threat punctuated by a sword
tip beak; obliquely it migrates in cursive shadows.

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Remembering Spring
by Laura Hershey

 

Ten days each spring, we woke

to the smell of salt water, seaweed,

eggs my Dad fried in butter,

and fresh orange pulped by Nana.

Before ten a.m. we wore the scent

of sun tan lotion, and tumbled out the door

where the Gulf welcomed us with waves

tendering gifts: conch shells, sand dollars,

tiny clams which opened into pink hearts

or angels’ wings spread for flight.

On folding chairs and big beach towels

we ate peanuts, cheese sandwiches, more oranges.

We did homework — price of missing

three days’ school — halfheartedly,

equations and penciled solutions blurring

amid glare on white pages.

All day, from low to high tide, and back, we slid between

land and sea, let the surf pound and pull at us,

let the sun dizzy us, built castles

of shovel-packed sand walls and drizzled spires

with moats Dad dug deep enough

for my dangling legs.

Can I now, forty years later, grieve

that same seawater? How many times since then

has it evaporated, and fallen? How many hundreds

of generations of mollusks and minnows

have lived and died between that beach

and the sandbar we rafted to at low tide?

In no sense are they mine to mourn –

but neither can I claim innocence.

The flights I board, my craving for cool air,

all my habits of comfort and consumption

learned on family vacations, loved

for a lifetime, joined to billions of others’ hungers,

led to drilling in that Gulf, a hole in its heart,

to take what lay within.

Now, I watch remote live feeds

of unstoppable hemorrhage, technology

helpless to reverse its own mistakes,

dark plumes choking Gulf currents,

and I grieve for fishing families, for endangered pelicans

and bluefin, for eleven dead workingmen.

But my soul aches for what I have not seen

for many years, and what might be lost:

long days on the beach, solving simple problems,

dreading only the end of spring break, until next year.

Laura Hershey is a Colorado-based poet and writer. Her poems have recently appeared in Gertrude, Shakespeare’s Monkey Review, Trillium Literary Journal, and in the anthology Fire in the Soul: 100 Poems for Human Rights. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.

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DEEP CURRENT
By Tom Hibbard

“Then you’d think of heaven
where there’s peace, away from here
and you’d go some place unreal
where everybody goes…,
set up in the air, safe, a room in a hotel.”
-H. Gregory

shooting off from familiar paths
like a rock in the beginning of time
the schoolbus is a piece of a far-off incident
invariably comprised of only a few wave-lengths
it doesn’t have anything to say
or doesn’t know how to say it
like jonah after his heart was broken
strolling along a murky paris quais
he wanted to be mayor of a midwestern town
living forever without requirements
other than the implements arranged in his garage
but he went in the wrong direction
mistaking freedom for slavery
which is to escape concern for the problems around you
disasters begin only within
as money dwindles in a bank
with nothing to put in place in case of emergency
a system lying fallen into its bones
a severed pipe leaking into miles of nowhere
the red bottom of the gulf of mexico
precisely where you wanted to go
the lonely globules pulled ever surfaceward
and no one is interested in how to stop them

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CREEP
By Patricia Hickerson

bubble and shine
everywhere
slick
slippery
scums the surface
it reeks

everywhere
mats the marsh, hair, feathers
burrows the beach
burns the bayou
gluts the gulf
ravages the river
sinks the swamp
poisons the pool
wastes the well

everywhere

shine and glitter
its skim and scope
stuns into silence

devil’s eye, winking,
ogles the ocean

—New York City native Patricia Hickerson holds degrees from Barnard College and San Francisco State, and a doctorate from USC. She danced in Warner Bros. movies, and has worked as a teacher, copy editor, Penthouse fiction author, as well as performing and writing for the political action collective FLAC. Her poetry has been published in the broadside At Grail Castle Hotel and the collection Daughter and Mother; also in Passager, Echoes, Choices, Convergence, Waterdrinkers, MedusasKitchen, Rattlesnake Review, WTF, poetrynow, Presa Magazine and Yolo Crow.

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Hank Considers His Early Retirement from an Oil Rig
by Courtney Hilden

It was a good job,
at first. I was just hauling sand around,
I was just falling asleep at every mess
-haul meal. That’s why they called me
Sandman. I can tell you

their names, remember
their faces, but we didn’t speak
much. I mostly kept to myself,
spending time on the deck
closest to the ocean, watching
the manta rays glide near
the surface, their bodies undulating
through the sun-kissed water.

As much as I don’t like
my fellow workers dying
in an explosion, I don’t want to think
about them mantas drowning.
I don’t care what they pay me now,
I’m just glad to be back here with
my brother, your father, and Sue.
I’m glad someone is willing to
take me to the library, let me open
the books on sea life,
see my mantas once again,
allowed to enjoy their homes forever,
if only in picture form.

– Courtney Hilden is Detroit-based writer and a recent graduate of Michigan State University, majoring in English and history. She began writing as a young girl, her first poem being about two dead birds. In her spare time, she like to makeart, go dancing, and watch old monster movies. She has previously been published in The Red Cedar Review and Arthur.

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The Six Things A River Might Say If It Were to Speak
by David Holper

It should have been a love song,

a slow thigh-tight heart-bursting

breast full

slow playing

skin on skin

wet kiss love song

heard under a flamingo colored sky

ankle deep in Gulf water,

looking down

at coquina shells,

spread open like butterflies in sand,

wings of purple, yellow, and rose.

A lover’s hand never played me better

than those low crawling Gulf waves.

It should have been a love song, but all I hear are the cries

of the stooped ibis in hunt of coquina shells now contaminated in poison, and

of the pelican diving into sheets of floating oil, and of the terrapin’s egg coated in sludge.

What is happening to my song?

Susan Hirsch is a teacher educator at Sonoma State University in northern California. She grew up on the Gulf of Mexico. It was her first love.

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Microcosm (an environmental poem)
By Cindy Hochman

A child who spilled grease on his mother’s linoleum
is now the president of British Petroleum!

–Cindy Hochman is a freelance proofreader/editor from Brooklyn, New York, where she is a regular on the thriving NYC poetry scene. She is the co-host of a poetry reading, a contributing book reviewer for Coldfront Magazine (www.coldfrontmag.com), and the Associate Editor of Poetry Thin Air, a weekly cable show. Her work has been published in, or is forthcoming in, the New York Quarterly, the Brownstone Poets Anthology, The Clockwise Cat, Writing Outside the Lines, Sunken Lines, and freefall.

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“Everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest.”
by Joanna Hoffman

-BP Chief Tony Hayward, on the aftereffects of his company’s oil spill which is estimated to stretch over 11,300 miles.
if you took a drink every time you heard a random fact or statistic in a poem,
you’d be Lindsay Lohan.

94,000 barrels of oil
drink
another 5,000 every day
glug, glug
11 human beings and 200 sea turtles, dolphins and birds now dead.

these numbers mean nothing
to the oil execs who cough, change the subject.
statistics do not matter
half as much as perspective.

what you see is just a stain. a scar. a comma scrawled in permanent marker onto the Atlantic’s blistering belly.
like the punctuation emphasizing just how modest it can be, watch it curl, fetal position,
up the Florida keys, softly dribbling ink fingertips like a bread crumb trail, clenching the tide
like a blanket.

“I’m optimistic that the Gulf will fully recover,” says Doug Suttles, BP’s Chief Operating Officer.

this morning, hot ropes of midnight lasso’d the beaches of lousiana.
the mississippi delta
painted black. suited men in their air-conditioned war rooms
sweat into their glasses of purified water,
craft their PR statements
and dodge the inconvenience of facts and numbers,
the way they can’t hummingbird flutter-off the blame
hot-glued and saturating through
clothes,
skin,
bone.

–Joanna Hoffman is a spoken word artist by night, non-profit worker by day. Originally from Maryland, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

~~~~~~~~~~

I)

There is no such thing as a river.
The word you call me is simply a place where waters pass.
I am no more an a thing unto itself than is ocean, air, you.

II)

When a swallow dips its beak for a drink,
the sky bend down to kiss my surface,
and this moment is reflected, like a tale told twice in joy, wrinkling the cloud’s face.

III)

All rivers are not metaphors, nor similes.
Forget what you have heard: I am life—and what living thing
doesn’t become something new as it empties into the ocean to weep salt?

IV)

If not fate, or some magnamanious hand,
what made the waters that you bend down to touch?
Did the waters make themselves? Did the salmon return to their ancestral beds by accident?

V)

All words about rivers ultimately fail us:
listen to the sounds of the water passing over the rocky bottom in the rills.
Isn’t that the word that spoke us all into being?

VI)

In the end, you come to me for the same reason
the salmon do:
God tips you back into yourself when you seek Him.
Anyone who leans too far out over the water to see himself must finally fall through into the depths for an answer.

–David Holper has done a little bit of everything: taxi driver, fisherman, dishwasher, bus driver, soldier, house painter, bike mechanic, bike courier, and teacher. In spite of all that useful experience on his resume and a couple of degrees in English to boot, he has managed to publish a number of stories and poems. His first book of poetry, 64 Questions, is available through March Street Press. He lives in Eureka, California, which is far enough from the madness of civilization that he can get some writing done. Another thing that helps in this process is that his three children continually ask him to tell them stories, and he is learning the art of doing that well for them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We are the Waters
by Julia Holzer

~ in memory of Wendy and Charlie

Your waters flowed wide and unmuddied
or richly ruddy with earth’s minerals.
Some thought your mythical headwaters could never be found.
I believed magical unicorns swam within you, there where you

floated thriving blue or green― before the chaotic waterfall.
But when you strayed from the sacred cloud forests
they reclaimed you as dirt and renamed your wet lands
as bleak streets upon which ugly houses now stand.

Once gifted with a drainage basin bigger than any of ours
eventually came the dam; but you were still so damned beautiful―
nurturing incubators for little fish babies
and polisher of many rough stones around you.

Finally, an invasive species onslaught;
chemical poisons and pollution became your undoing.
In the end, too many dead bodies floated bloated
like after a war: No hope for the rivers to be restored.

Remember, we have fed off your spirit
and the wisest among us has bathed in your cool depths.
Know, in your beloved universe
we are the Waters, too.

–Julia Holzer exists as half cement and carefree 60s and 70s Pasadena girl, and half web-toed algae-blooded girl of the San Joaquin Delta. In her parallel life, she is a Cormorant. She graduated summa cum laude from Chapman University. An important avocation, poetry spills over into writing, editing and supporting the local Central Valley, CA arts community. Previously, she co-edited the highly-regarded ZamBomba! literary journal and recently finished volunteer poetry editing for the outstanding volume 6, Manzanita, Poetry & Prose of the Mother Lode & Sierra. Her works have been included in many fine valley publications.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Full Page Ad in the Des Moines Register’s Sunday Travel Section Praising the Fine Climate for Poets in Florida:
Paid for by a Generous Donation from BP That in No Way Represents an Admission of Liability

by Christopher Honey

Why has this ledge

Never been know for its poets?

Drifting out into mild waters

The climate is perfect for writers

And their avuncular

(Tubercular – I mean tubercular) lungs.

This place

My home has everything you would need

If you wanted to join me here.

Elizabeth Bishop once said

That it was the most beautiful place

(Or that it had the most beautiful name)

For writing poetry.

No it does not have the

Institutional support some of you

May have come to expect

But poets are supposed to starving.

Yes the job market is poor

And driven by low wage industries

Like grocery store checkout boys

And seasonal t-shirt vendors

But that is to overlook

The inspiration of beautiful sunsets

And failing schools

For the active and agile mind

Of a poet.

So that is why I am placing

This advertisement

In the travel section of your newspaper

To encourage good quality poets

To leave the hard bitten hipster streets

Of New York, San Francisco and Boston

And join me here in the Sunshine State.

Christopher Honey was born in Boynton Beach, Florida and now divides his time between Dunedin, Florida and Washington, DC. His poetry has previously been published in Black Books Press and Candlestones. Three more of his poems will be published in the Fall 2011 edition of Atlantic Pacific Press. When not writing poetry, Christopher is a political and communications consultant for Democrats, progressive nonprofits, and labor unions.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Oil Spill
by Sandra Hoynacki

It’s not just another day along the beach.
Ceilings of blue rest high above poisoned
waters, swirling.
Senseless loss of life snarled amid the dark
murky liquid called monetary gain.
Miles of orange booms trace our headlines.

Arguments, pointed fingers, decisions,
black death spewing at will…untamed…

As we drive along the deserted beach road we
see pastel-colored homes that once housed
paper doll families on vacation…..
Sounds of laughter will soon lie as ink stains
in tomorrow’s diary.
The scent of deficiency meets our nostrils
amid every porcelain stare throughout our state.

Arguments, pointed fingers, decisions,
black death spewing at will…untamed…

Yellow metal caravans fill parking lots
along the way.
Now, tainted sands wear the footprints
of unknowns, here to salvage our frailness.
They, too, walk amid our heart prints of pain.

Arguments, pointed fingers, decisions,
black death spewing at will…untamed…

Condominiums stand vacant along
an asphalt trail that curls up
inside my mind…..
Strands of color rippling thru
the blackness, coursing thru veins of
dark oily waters of doom…
Orange-colored misery to remind us of
someone’s mistakes…or poor planning.

Arguments, pointed fingers, decisions,
black death spewing at will…untamed…

Thru the hourglass of time
sifts the sheen of our tomorrows…

~~~~~~~~~~

Drilling Disaster
by Wynne Huddleston

The spill has created a slinky tiger—
water striped with black oil and orange
danger devouring life in its wake.
Still, children swim here while men
in hazmat suits pick up garbage
along the beach. A pelican slides
onto shore, covered in black, struggles
to stand; then waddles blindly
and drunkenly, full of thick fuel dripping
beneath him. A stingray, pink
from chemical burns, lies
lifeless on the beach. Jelly fish
with bellies full of oil stretch out

across the water like a strange necklace.
A charcoal self-portrait of the hungry
monster smiles from the sand, teeth bared,
alongside its kill—a hundred dead
Kemps ridley, hawksbill, leatherback,
and green turtles, already endangered
species. Will any survive? The gulf wind
blows a tear-jerking stench as more slick
creatures wash up on the beach. Correcting

chemicals promise to bring us more
of these beach treasures; clawless crabs,
lesioned fish, grounded birds, and poisonous
air as about 40 million gallons of oil a day,
and counting, smother and suffocate

marine life. From plankton to sperm whales,
from your plate to your pocketbook, nothing
can escape the smothering coat of oil
and genetically altering chemicals. Yes,
the ocean is the last frontier, Jacques
Cousteau, I fear would have much unknown
to explore for decades to come
in the depths of this ocean disaster.

–Wynne Huddleston is a writer and teacher with a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. A board member of the Mississippi Writers Guild, Ms. Huddleston’s poetry has been, or will be published in Emerald Tales: Winter Solstice, Vol. 1, Special 3; Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Vol. 30, No. 4; Gemini Magazine; Today in Mississippi; Enchanted Conversation, Vol. 1, Issue 3; Emerald Tales: Midsummer’s Eve, Vol. 2, No. 3; The Shine Journal; From the Porch Swing – memories of our grandparents; joyful!; THEMA: Music and Math, and the Birmingham Arts Journal.

~~~~~~~~~~

Texas Tea Tsunami
By Dawn L. Huffaker

Rig on the ocean
Drilling a new oil well.
Almost done-
Need to finish it off.
In the dark of an April night,
Powerful explosion
Wounds the mighty beast-
Chaos ensues everywhere.
Workers scared.
Workers scattering.
Workers wounded.
Workers dead.
Deepwater Horizon rig
Has suffered
A mortal wound.
Oil gushes everywhere.
Fires devour rig.
Workers in lifeboats.
Workers in water.
Rig below waves.
Texas Tea (oil)
Is all that is left.
From one mile down,
It rises to the top.
Waves and wind
Steer it towards the coast
All along the Gulf-
Another disaster brews.
Well can’t be capped.
Oil rushes out and up.
Sixty days and counting,
When will it stop?
Ocean being poisoned.
Sea animals being killed.
Plant life being suffocated.
Ecosystem being destroyed.
Black ooze now on shore-
Texas Tea Tsunami strikes!
Animals and birds poisoned.
Trees and plants dying.
Beaches tainted-
God knows for how long.
Clean up almost impossible-
Oil keeps returning.
People harmed
Businesses closed.
Livelihoods gone.
God help them.
Day by day,
Gallon by gallon,
This tsunami disaster unfolds
With lessons for all.

~~~~~~~~~~

From a petropoetics
by Angela Hume

Oil and gas production from Gulf Coast that fuels the economy continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future Deepwater Horizon April 20 eleven semi-submersible drilling unit workers missing 396 feet long 256 feet wide built in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard presumed dead designed to operate in water depths up to 8,000 feet sank two days later maximum drill depth 5.5 miles ruptured pipe at 5,000 feet Oil and gas production from Gulf Coast that fuels the economy 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day 5,000 barrels of crude a day continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future Oil and gas production from Gulf Coast that fuels the economy continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future1*

1*“Oil and gas production from Gulf Coast that fuels the economy continues to flow today and will continue to flow into the foreseeable future,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, April 30, 2010, http://www.cnn.com

–I hold an MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. Currently I am working toward a PhD in English at University of California, Davis. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Zoland Poetry, EOAGH, Word for/ Word, Spinning Jenny, cold-drill, The 2River View, The Portland Review, Flyway Literary Review, and elsewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Gusher From The Sea
By Richard Ilnicki

It didn’t come from outer space
as some had suspected,
an alien with a BIG head and one eye.
Instead, it came up out of the earth
like some prehistoric creature
from the Black Lagoon,
some hydra-headed hydrocarbon.
And, it didn’t come all at once
with one huge ominous looking body
covered with scales, armored plates,
muscled limbs and grotesque head.
No, it came continuously
like a violently opened wound
oozing as if there were no tomorrow.

It didn’t speak.
However, it did communicate
by making a series of slick signs.

Was it out of control and gushing with anger?
Yes, it was out of control, and
of course, it was angry.
You would be too, it said,
if someone had drilled a huge hole
into your skull
and emptied your lifeblood into the sea,
one bloody gallon after another.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This Just In From the Tar Sands

They are saying smugly that we now have the clean oil
We, of the land that last year had to show the world
Our tailings ponds with hundred of water fowl so oil-coated
They looked nothing like the species of ducks or birds
They actually were and everything like the tragic loss of life
They were becoming; the world was critical as it wept with
Those of us who were heartsick at big oil companies who
Tried to make light of this – after all, it was an ‘accident’
And they had tried to plan the ponds to be where birds
Weren’t but had miss-planned – who knew the migratory
Patterns were changing? Indeed – who knows anything?

Who has any knowledge at all about all these things:
About the poisoned waters in our north and the decline
Of all the indigenous plants, animals and people – let’s not
Forget the people – even though every report done by oil
Companies and governments alike would like to do just that-
Forget the people that is – how about the doctor in Fort Chip
Who dared mention he noticed a higher than normal incidence
Of a rare cancer there? That’s all – he just mentioned that
And, suddenly he was an alarmist, he was threatened by the
Very board that licensed him, told he would be sanctioned by
Them, that he would no longer be able to practise medicine
If he didn’t hush – why didn’t they just duct-tape his mouth?

The harassment grew so intimidating that he and his wife
Finally fled the small native community and moved across
The country to the Maritimes but, he felt so bad about abandoning
The many sick he was serving in Fort Chip – he started seeing
Them via teleconferences and flying in on a regular basis to keep
Up their care – all the while fighting his ridiculous court-case
As the alarmist who the medical board was taking to task;
He was eventually cleared of all charges of course, but little
Noise was made of this – very little noise at all – no, it was more
Important to undermine him loudly, not to put things to rights.

And now, with that dreadful oil-spill off the coast of the USA
There are actually people in Texas North as many of us have
Come to think of Alberta, because of the way oil is worshipped
Here—there are people here who really are going about saying
With the self-righteous fervour of televangelists that—
“Well, who has the dirty oil now, huh? Looks like getting the oil out
of the ground is the wiser choice after all …” — completely ignoring
The reports that confirm how much contamination has happened
To the groundwater, how extensive the downstream damage is,
How quickly this non-renewable resource will be gone in any case …
If everything was on the up and up and nothing had to be
Kept from the public, do you think the largest oil companies
In the world would keep some of the top scientists
On the planet, on retainer – to the tune of millions of dollars –
So that they cannot testify, or work for anyone else, including
Environmental groups and/or governments—kind of makes
One wonder doesn’t it? And not just about the oil companies …
This is nothing new really—these scientist are paid to be deniers
Much the same way scientists were paid to deny the harmful
Effects of tobacco, oddly enough, by the oil companies
When those were first discovered and being touted widely
By the medical community—what is that saying,
“The more things change, the more they stay the same …”

And all the while, the pictures from the gulf grow ever more
Troubling, although ‘troubling’ seems far too mild a term
When one watches the size of the oil spill spreading unchecked
No matter what those supposedly in the know do to try
And stop it—this crude is flowing relentlessly toward land
Almost as if drawn magnetically there, the black is seeping
Through the depths and even up to the surface – oil is coming
And there’s no joy to be had about this bounty, none at all.

 S.E.Ingraham lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is currently the President of the Stroll of Poets, a group who meet weekly from September to March to read their work aloud, and last year, she edited their anthology. Recently her piece, “Welcome to the Jungle” placed in the competition Expressions of Hunger and will hang at Edmonton’s City Hall, as well as several art galleries. She has two poems archived on poetsagainstwar.ca, and is working on several chapbooks, one of which is based on her grandson’s first year of life entitled, You Don’t Know Jack. She believes poets have a responsibility to record events, world and local, as witnesses and hopes at least some of her work reflects that belief.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ghazal the Ocean
by De Jackson

If I swallow you whole, wind, wisdom, wave
May I wish you hello with this blissful wave?

If I breathe in your soul, can I heal myself, whole
Simply by becoming one with your waves?

If your salt soaks my skin, can I begin
To let go of the fears that make my heart wave?

If I hold my breath, can I swim way down in
Sink into your embrace, replace tears with waves?

When I dive through, think deep
You will rock me to sleep, on lullaby wave.

But if I use you, abuse you, so brutally bruise you
Defy you, I must also goodbye you, with a wistful wave.

–De Jackson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poem
by Jennifer L. Jakeman

The rusty pipe below the sea
Dissolving God’s creations
Not one-by-one, but all en masse
That crosses through its unraveling path

Grab the key and hit the gas
PUMP! PUMP! PUMP! This oil goes fast

Although you shrivel at the pain
Don’t turn your back America
Our tempers flared, our trust revoked
By hanging on Obama’s HOPE

-Jennifer L. Jakeman is a 32 year old female from Northern Virginia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oily Sky
By Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa

A wood warbler after sleeping 10 hours
in its nest, wings shaking to fly, stretches
its neck, into the freshly tanned dawn,
yawns as people do, and then scratches
its tail with its beak, say, I’ll sing again,
when the oil in the deltanly Gulf is cleaned,
and love permeates the rush of trucks
along the motorways. For now, I will eat
peas and drink rain, furrow with my talons
on the white strands of Magheraroarty,
searching for molluscs, or small insects.

– Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa was born in Warri, Nigeria, and currently lives in Ireland. His poetry has been published widely, including The DIAGRAM, Echoing Years, Barnwood, and Edison Literary Review. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes three times, and he received the 2008 W. B. Yeat’s Pierce Loughran Award.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Screed for the Bleed
by R.V.C. Jason

While trying to keep, afloat, my little boat;
Where to place the oars? Amidst the thickening seas—
and Sees of Invented Power. The clot and curdle
of crude oil’s rush— all Dear, Spent Bloods—
dying for the shared, numb jingles of false profits, in
refined 3-D, cranked out by oligarchic hacks
with expansive spew, writing Corporate,
Congressional & Parliamentary scripts,
as one, in avaricious consolidation:
Con-fusions of a truer Green and Blue;

The sickening extermination, and impoverished refuge(e)
lives of most upon the planet,
thrown-out, blown-up, blown-out,
Tortured, and raped;
Children suffering through little innocence,
denied succor and empathy,
Objectified with extreme malice
by foul, eugenic minds, in entropic winds;
of High Definition fog and rhetorical folly,
Perpetrated by Mammon’s, small minority minions—
righteous, and rife with untoward, adrenaline flush—
amidst the acrid aromas of destructive incendiary powders,
near, and remote.

I continue to be reminded of the satirical
expressions of 1960′s street-poet, Moondog.
A piece he recorded, entitled,
“Oleum Cannis, Oil of Dog.”
By which, the final solution requires the sacrifice
of babes, for the ultimate, utilitarian, balm—
Deceptive genetic imperatives are killing all of us.
Where, to ply the oars?

Our civil compass broken,
Spun-off resplendent, magnetic shores, for
Toxic, violent, devotional perpetuation;
Justified by servile, actuarial con-fabulators,
Ignorant ( as we all are) of the dark-energy-matters—
That are the MOST of our diverse, What, Where & Who?

Our shared, sublime reality,
All usurp’t for Human greed—a frightening, regressive,
profitable mix, of sanctimonious sacrifice,
balancing risk—
of aweful-awful, Temporal Power, (strutting in radical clothes)
Stylish, yet, fleet as dew-drops’ aquamarine glimmer,
drying, with the sunrise, upon a single blade of grass.
Dying Sprout of Hope on, once, life-giving shores,
now, carbon-neutralized, by objective, bottom-line lies:

All con-fusion, clotted with spurious music & speech— &
oozing, coagulate, earth-blood mirrors of our vain ad-ventures,
Become incineration, above and within,
companion avian, aquatic & mammalian communities, alike.

Spirit & Ocean waves torn asunder.
Tragic(o)-insensate ruptures of the rainbow’d pulse,
by our dim, shared plunder: (Myopic, short-sighted, disrespectful—)
Oily reflection of where we are headed, in human(e) delusion,
upon our minute orb of earth, sea, & nocturnal reaches;
Taken with death by consumption.

Blue and Green by sun, and moon-glow shadows,
Upon rising tides— Oceanic plasticities of hydro-carbon debris,
obscure, and defile our small portion of immaculate, singing stars.
O help me to know— to realize—
Where, and how, to place & ply the oars?
Our one, little boat, so lost at sea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Life Reborn
by Kylie Jayne

entwined in one another’s embrace
dark liquid as shroud
thick,
deep,
umbilical-like,
pulling us back into ocean’s womb
where at once we will be reborn

skimming stones on oceans now solid
the faintest light peers
through,
waves,
layered against oil,
pulling us back into earth’s core
where at once we will find life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Mariela Miranda Jenkins is a Costa Rican citizen.She was born Dec 3rd, 1979. Single working of two and working as a Content Manager and Copywriter for the web. English is her second language and she learned it after so many years of attending Lincoln School.

~~~~~~~~~~

On the Coastline
By Ivan Jenson

thought I might bring you
with me
throw down a blanket
with wine in basket
frisbee and gulls
on the coastline
could see you
wade in the Gulf
kick white water
in low tide
then I
overheard inside
a sea shell
that
these were only
brain waves
sand castles
and napkin sails on wish bones
scavenged from the
oil-soaked sand

– Ivan Jenson is fast rising fresh poetic voice on the international publishing scene. He has enjoyed unprecedented success publishing his poetry in the US and the UK. His poems have appeared in Word Riot, Mad Swirl, O and S Poets and Artist magazine, Blazevox, and many others. He is a novelist, artist and poet living Grand Rapids, Michigan. http://www.ivanjensonartist.com/

~~~~~~~~~~

9 thoughts on “Open Mic (H – J)

  1. Remembering Siesta Key
    Copyright 2010 by Laura Hershey

    Ten days each spring, we woke
    to the smell of salt water, seaweed,

    eggs my Dad fried in butter,
    and fresh orange pulped by Nana.

    Before ten a.m. we wore the scent
    of sun tan lotion, and tumbled out the door

    where the Gulf welcomed us with waves
    tendering gifts: conch shells, sand dollars,

    tiny clams which opened into pink hearts
    or angels’ wings spread for flight.

    On folding chairs and big beach towels
    we ate peanuts, cheese sandwiches, more oranges.

    We did homework — price of missing
    three days’ school — halfheartedly,

    equations and penciled solutions blurring
    amid glare on white pages.

    All day, from low to high tide, and back, we slid between
    land and sea, let the surf pound and pull at us,

    let the sun dizzy us, built castles
    of shovel-packed sand walls and drizzled spires

    with moats Dad dug deep enough
    for my dangling legs.

    Can I now, forty years later, grieve
    that same seawater? How many times since then

    has it evaporated, and fallen? How many hundreds
    of generations of mollusks and minnows

    have lived and died naturally between that beach
    and the sandbar we rafted to at low tide?

    In no sense are they mine to mourn –
    but neither can I claim innocence.

    The flights I board, my craving for cool air,
    all my habits of comfort and consumption

    learned on family vacations, loved
    for a lifetime, joined to billions of others’ hungers,

    led to drilling in that Gulf, a hole in its heart,
    to take what lay within.

    Now, I watch remote live feeds
    of unstoppable hemorrhage, technology

    helpless to reverse its own mistakes,
    dark plumes choking Gulf currents,

    and I grieve for fishing families, for endangered pelicans
    and bluefin, for eleven dead workingmen.

    But my soul aches for what I have not seen
    for many years, and what might be lost:

    long days on the beach, solving simple problems,
    dreading only the end of spring break, until next year.

    Laura Hershey is a Colorado-based poet and writer. Her poems have recently appeared in Gertrude, Shakespeare’s Monkey Review, Trillium Literary Journal, and in the anthology Fire in the Soul: 100 Poems for Human Rights. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.

  2. I appreciate the range of observations here, from those of childhood, to noting the fatalities, and the memorable lines, “the flights I board… led to the drilling.” How honest and direct. Nicely written.

  3. Pingback: Zouxzoux
  4. With a backdrop of the sun setting over the Mississippi River, Wynne Huddleston read her poem “Drilling Disaster” on August 6, 2010 at Literary Artists On Stage. The event was held during the annual Mississippi Writers Guild Conference at Vicksburg, MS.

  5. I’m just as happy having my poem in the “open mic” section as I would be if it were in the “featured” section. We all have a voice here and I’m proud to be part of this and have my poem next to all these other wonderful open mic poets!!

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