Natural Disaster

Always have to wonder:
Was it the water, or was it the wall?
The story always makes me wonder:
Was it the wave, or the breaking of the wall.
Which was the natural part of disaster
Flooding the city, after all?

Makes me think twice:
Is it the oil, or is it the drill.
When you talk about disaster,
is it the oil, or the deep water drill?
Nothing natural about the oil rig,
but it’s the oil that’s bound to kill.

You say you can’t blame the government
when mighty nature goes its way
say nature going to take the blame
floods and hurricanes come our way
But who you calling nature
in this disaster, anyway?

You say this dog eats shit
but it’s a natural thing to do.
Might be pretty, might be ugly
but it’s a natural thing to do.
Cities wiped out, throw your hands up
No such body as nature going to take the blame for you.


Nature is the phenomena of the physical world. Proof of fault is a condition of liability. If nature is at fault, the physical world is liable. Proof and liability ask us to name a villain. We have too many villains to name, and too many victims to compensate. Something is broken about this logic: how will nature fix it?


Jen Coleman is the author of the chapbook Propinquity and co-author with Allison Cobb and C. E. Putnam of the chapbook Communal Bebop Canto. Her work has appeared in Chain, Tangent, Ixnay and EOAGH and other literary magazines. She works in outreach for Oregon Environmental Council.

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