TWO POEMS by Andy Young


Take a deep breath, I say to myself,
then remember the petroleum wind,
the spreading slick, rig workers blasted and sent
to bones and wreckage in the Gulf
now gushing plumes of wealth.
The wellhead swells and looses filth.
Each tide is slick with thick, sweet crude
which etches delicate marshes and blends

benzene with oyster brine. Across
the coast, useless yellow booms float,
fishing nets hang slack with loss.
The earth will not die, though it
might lop off a continent, convert
and re-form us as fossil and dross.



That ain’t no spill, mister. That there’s
a hemorrhage edging in. That artery you hit—
don’t look to me like no top kill
bottom hat junk shot robot business’s
going to fix it. You can spin it any way
you like but them men won’t be fished
out from the sea and neither will the fish.
They’re hauling them away by the bagful

at night before the rot sets in. Just like
the mines, if you ask me. The drills the rigs
the dynamite the shovels—all to hack up
and haul the earth out by the black bushelful.
They say there’s a mine been burning forty
years. Fire can turn a man to ash inside an hour.


Andy Young is the co-editor of Meena Magazine, a bilingual Arabic-English literary journal, and teaches Creative Writing at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Her work was recently featured on National Public Radio’s “The World” and published in Best New Poets 2009 (University of Virginia Press), Callaloo, Guernica, and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co). She has published two chapbooks, All Fires the Fire (Faulkner House Books) and mine (Lavender Ink), and has been awarded the Faulkner Festival’s Marble Faun Poetry Award, a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship, a Surdna Artist-Teacher Fellowship, and writing residencies at the Santa Fe Arts Institute and the Vermont Studio Center. She was an invited guest to poetry festivals in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Her work has also appeared in electronic music, buses in Santa Fe, flamenco productions, jewelry designs by Jeanine Payer, and a tattoo parlor in Berlin.

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