THREE POEMS by Mike Espana-McGeehon

Oil Spill-Ambergris

As they gather the balls of petroleum
off the beaches of Louisiana
the voice of my grandpa comes to me:
“Keep your eyes peeled for the vomit
of the sperm whale, kid. It’ll stink
of death and shit, but listen! One
grey ball of it can bring us enough
cash to buy off the house and leave
enough to send you to college. Even
if it reeks now it turns to sweetness
over time, perfect for perfume.”
I wonder what he’d think of these
black balls gather on the shores,
or the corpse of a dolphin smothered
rotting on the beach head. If only
the world really turned to sweetness
and filled the pockets of the poor
with greenbacks.


The Gulf Oil Spill-Dependence

Walking along the asphalt streets to
the house my partner and I will share
I watch the dance of grocery bags
and roses thriving on fertilizers.

Today the plastic container of organic yogurt
and the traveler lid on my coffee cup
are my companions. The rain flecks off
the nylon of my jacket.

Even the fibers of my blue jeans are wrapped
in leaking darkness. The floor I stand on
and the walls around me are filled with
the death of whole species.

I settle into the crook of her neck,
smell the richness of skin lotion and paint.
Today I am the happiest that I’ve ever been.
And still the seas run black.


The Oil Spill from Space

We can only trust the cosmonauts
who look down through the darkness
of our atmosphere, and comment on
the changes we have carved into this
hanging blue speck of space dust.

If you stand far enough away, though,
there is nothing but the usual churning
of the waves, the constant swirl
of clouds and land and scurrying life.
The patches of man made death

are only like so much mold on cheese,
streaking the oceans and the land,
waiting to be cut away. But from up here
the damage blends, and the world looks
like it would without us.


Mike Espana-McGeehon lives and writes in Newberg, Oregon.  You can read his blog at

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