The View from Cedar Key

There are acts we shouldn’t risk,
the way we’d not send our children
across busy streets alone.

Perhaps nothing of ours would slick
the Gulf, no black goo coat
the feathers of staggering

birds, nothing clot the sand
our toddlers love to mound.
Perhaps we’ll never wake to

brown beaches. But what if we did?
I think of Cedar Keys and
fine days kayaking

against the wind. And I remember
how it felt to land on
the farthest scrub

and know that the Gulf stretched
to Texas and Mexico but none
of its despoilation

bore our name. I ask you: what
is it worth to drive a mile
a penny cheaper?

I say not this. I say there are
places best left holy. I say
that if we cannot save

this water, there will be no other.
I say that if, when the money
is clamoring around us

we do not yield, then they will come.
And they will lie down on
our white sands and

remark to each other, shading
their eyes, how beautiful
Florida is. And we

will smile inside, knowing
how gladly we paid the price,
and think

Yes, beautiful.


The poem comes from a book called UnspOILed: Writers Speak out for the Gulf ( , the brainchild of Sue Cerulean and Janisse Ray born last fall with the idea of giving a copy to every legislator in hopes of swaying him/her to oppose drilling off our coast.  The irony is that I wrote the poem then, months before the spill.  I believe, as I think Sue and Janisse do, that passion— as expressed in the written word–  can propel the ordinary man forward maybe even more powerfully than reason can so it behooves us all to write passionately about what we love.


Lola Haskins’ ninth collection of poems, Still, the Mountain, has just been published by Paper Kite. Anhinga Press will bring out her tenth, The Grace to Leave, in 2011. Ms. Haskins’ prose works include Solutions Beginning with A, original fables illustrated by Maggie Taylor (Modernbook), Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner’s Guide to the Poetic Life (Backwaters, 2007), and the forthcoming Fifteen Florida Cemeteries: Strange Tales Unearthed (University Press of Florida, Spring 2011).   Her specifically environmental writings include essays in Visions of Florida and The Wild Heart of Florida, both from the University Press of Florida, and a poem in Book of the Everglades (Milkweed). Retired from Computer Science at University of Florida in Gainesville, Ms. Haskins teaches for the RainRainier Writer’s Workshop. For more information, please visit her at

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