by Lyle Daggett
another sunrise over the amber womb
of the world. tar rippling up
on the beaches, clogging
in the marsh grasses —
in tight close-up on public t.v. news
a dragonfly glued to a reed stalk,
wing membranes blotted with oil,
gazing out into incalculable space
waiting for all life to end.
what broken song, what ill-begotten moon
cast these iron bones
to the bottom of the sea?
“Our disciplined approach is instrumental
in minimizing our environmental impact”
executive in pale gray suit, face slack
with worry, clangs a solemn bell:
lined up on a pedestal, a dozen
bronze helmets, the number of dead
necessary for an acceptable return
what foul wind, what toss
of crooked knucklebones boiled up
this cruel brew?
“Safe and reliable operations are integral to
BP’s success, and we strive continuously
to improve our safety performance”
an act of ecocide has become
a landmark visible on
like the great wall of china
or the lights of las vegas.
pelican washed up wings splayed
on the sand, feathers caked
in bubbling crude,
wounds drilled in the heart
of the earth,
blood for oil.
the bird cries pause, the breeze
holds its breath, waiting
so that life begins.
sun glare on the steel girder
causeway bridge, sea that time forgot,
another day of press releases is underway
on the golden arm of the world.
(Quoted passages are from the British
Petroleum website as of May 31, 2010.)
* * *
Lyle Daggett’s books of poems include The First Light Touches Me (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Idea of Legacy (Musical Comedy Editions). His poems, translations, essays and book reviews have appeared in Pemmican, Blue Collar Holler, Main Street Rag; the anthology Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath; and other publications. His weblog is A Burning Patience, http://aburningpatience.blogspot.com. He has not received a grant or award. He lives in Minneapolis.
Jelly Squirtby Meredith Danton
We took a bite out of the Earth
like it was a giant jelly donut.
And when the jelly gushed,
its purple placenta
stained our white pants,
white shoes, white sands. White
knights with “top hats” and “junk shots”
tried with all their might to lift the stain
while shrimpers and swimmers
ate tar patties for lunch.
That donut bled through months stacked like gauze.
Still, we order up more by the dozens.
–Meredith Danton is editorial director in the Office ofCommunications and Marketing at the University of Miami, where she also is pursuing her MFA in poetry. She is a recipient of the Alfred Boas Prize of the American Academy of Poets, and her work has appeared in the journals Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture and Floorboard Review.
by Theodora Danylevich
Like dominoes – bodies and meter
measure westward webs of continence
Over There statistics on urinary consistency
in the elder populations: indecipherable oozings
Labor Oils Disruption.
Where is the beauty in fertility?
The invisible land moans at the thought
Groans harbinger yawns, caverns –
Is it true that apathy engendered the Grand Canyon?
That Spanish sounds lazy?
Terra cotta flies liquid interrupting
ice castles blowing snowflake kisses
at the masses. Niña, Pinta, Santa
Maria. A body of what.
Is light invisible color?
Grand Mexican Yawn. Nor what it seams.
Wear it well. Handshake is equivalent or something
to the environment.
Pending presence, labor
oils disruption. Granules at the
seams of politicking tape (the color of
STOP) begging to come in. Protest
protection. How much is it? What.
Herod’s eyes. Heron blue.
Save the Chesapeake bay.
Inaccessibility has something to do here.
Red like a barn and coiled like a yarn.
This rattlesnake is the tread of bodies
falling like dominoes. This is the fine
china of creatures crushed one into another like
bug shoulders in an entomologist’s crypt.
Mouths and shoulders, we speak
a travers – fulness is elusive, sated
in its own corner. Even the oil is.
Unpredictable lines, disrupting
liquid color, indecipherable light.
–Theodora Danylevich is a PhD Student in English at the George Washington University. Her poetry has appeared in/on DCPoetry.com, Vanitas,Phoebe, Prefix, and some more is forthcoming in Lana Turner.
by Christina Davis
not directed at us.
is on no this or that Earth.
they taught not
etiquette but the truth:
is here with us.
by Vivian Demuth
No pelicans on the broken boat’s mast
This freshwater swamp is disappearing
How long will the Native people here last?
I’ve got the hungry heron Bayou blues.
Shrimp boats still lying belly up on roads
Big oil machinery is widening the bayous
And saltwater is rising as the land erodes
That’s why, I’ve got the sagging sunflower Bayou blues.
Dead cypress trees hug broken levees
No crawfish spirits left to hold up the land
Too many assessments and no FEMA trailers
Why won’t the Red Cross come give another hand?
Oh, I’ve got the coral snake biting Bayou blues.
Somedays, I see the Native chiefs organizin’ in forty directions
And the foreign volunteers and engineers arrive
I hear the possums lovin’ by the backyard kumquats
And I pray, real loud, May we all survive
this post-hurricane and oil spill jive.
–Vivian Demuth is the author of the poetry chapbook, Breathing Nose Mountain. Her poems have been published in journals in the United States, Canada, Europe and Mexico. She volunteered in a First Nations Community after Hurricane Katrina. Her website is: http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/viviandemuth
by Natasha Deonarain
Humble, we kneel at your feet touching once, twice, thrice and ask that you accept these
token offerings our insatiable appetites emerge sightless, senseless into form
birthed from the fertile soils of your womb to feed gaping gullets with unconditional love
as only a mother could.
Caress our face your fingertips to lips we ask of you much more and so shall you give.
When piety sinks to ocean depths in rock and so cannot be contained
we drill for blackened soup as sustenance our goblets flow with heart blood rise
to blanket watery sins with multi-hued suffocate slick in brilliant sun
our briny alter to your steadfast love.
Kiss soft our cheeks and shed no tear for we are your chosen and so shall we take.
Homage to silver pulp stored in silicon lock and key seep arsenical
through glistening skin we strip your body bare and give you back such forms of carbon lust
our just exchange for effluent love the air we breathe unable to stop this mad pursuit
we fall on grounded knee and cry aloud for you.
Hold close ourselves unto your breast can you now see how thus we are so lost?
We anoint the center of your heart our plastic jewel so placed to swirl though currents of time and space compounded waste of countless lives to gather thus and uncontained
as foul in drifting seas it swells our gifts of love for we are yours through flesh and blood
these bonds cannot be cut.
Your whisper still resounds inside this fading light we cup so dear inside our palm.
Filled with rot from wired lives we’re blind and so see naught but nuclear dust on golden eyes
our gratitude glows against cobalt skies the platinum curls of angelic hair
please take this garland of our shard and drape your throat
so thus constrict your beauty reigns.
You reach but cannot touch our sense and so we turn in shade our sacred contracts broke.
We your incubus by natural law must love and thus with each day passed
we press our dying hands in paralyzed awe and bow in reverent prayer
you asked for naught but our respect through all this time
and this we could not give.
Is it too late this sinking sun that sets our souls to dark?
Through dried brush plain and ochre red your kaleidoscope we tear your clothes
and leave you charred in burning fire may we remember all that is
and no longer here for us to love our folly consumes
but ma! you taught us naught and doomed to endless rhyme the past forgot.
This cycle must we repeat unchecked unchained for those to come?
Forgive us please we beg of you for we knew not….and we could not
attempt to Be ──
— Natasha Deonarain writes and lives in Chandler, Arizona and is currently working on finishing a memoir about dealing with the death of her father who, like her, was also a physician. Now entering a second career pursuing her real passion of writing, she has published several articles in trade journals and community magazines and is currently working on an anthology of medical poetry. You can reach her on Facebook and Twitter or through her website http://www.thepersephoneprinciple.com.
by Mary Krane Derr
“[T]he spill is like a serial killer.”– PJ Hahn, director of coastal management, Plaquemines Parish, to cbsnews.com
Too pumped up on
petrochemical fertilizer foods
to strut and cluck their own
happily meandering lines,
too crammed and pinioned
into metal racks anyway,
chickens of industry
shit out their mountains
of reeking ammoniac fear
that wash out down the Delta
and bloom frantic plumes into the Gulf
of all-it-can-eat algae
till even the algae
burns itself extinct—
there’s nothing that coughing up blood oil
to mass-smother birds can’t achieve.
Preventable bad wires,
how little time left
without a lost-time accident
for these humans on clampdown
restively downing brought-in
fried chicken to the bones
stories above the already roiled sea.
When the rig blows like prophecy
the workers have no way to step or fly out,
except 11 who go missing
into unseen molecules
into black globs of oil
that venture out looking like
geological spots of blood from above,
that wash back up and stopper
the living throats and wings of wetlands
by the mouth of the Mississippi–
there’s nothing that coughing up blood oil
to mass-smother birds can’t achieve.
–Mary Krane Derr is a poet, writer, eco activist, and organic community gardener from Chicago’s South Side. She has published in journals like Many Mountains Moving, Lilliput Review, and Seeding the Snow and anthologies like Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society, ed. Nita Penfold (Pudding House). She contributed articles to the African American National Biography (Oxford University Press); and a forthcoming Polish American Historical Association encyclopedia.
by Maureen Doallas
it’s still gushing, this fire-fueled eruption,
stops. Sticky as blood is the ooze, the way it turns up
a sand-gritty clog between the fingers of white-beached
around red and blue booms like vaccine-resistant bacteria.
flapping rhythmic beats against the red-rust hull of a tanker.
Bottlenose dolphin do their endless rolls on waves, a stunt
we’d applaud at Sea World that here just breaks our hearts.
Northern gannet wither in seaweed, their feathers a totem
of surrender. Ever-circling, gulls bleat alarms at the cache
of shrimp in delicate marsh-reed nets, baking in noon-day sun,
and fish by the thousands rot, their stink fixed in the grasses
where dragonflies, their see-through wings stuck shut
with oily glue, while away a lifetime in minutes. Thick-legged
sea turtles and Portuguese man-of-war wear rescue patches
of dispersant, their arrival too late for the terns and cattle egret
and roseated spoonbills joining slow-breathing tri-color heron
in the mangrove, their quietening plaint become the final call
in the silver sheen of moonlight over unfathomable Deepwater.
By Patricia Dixon
“there is nothing to say, no words to speak;
for nothing can replace the loss of you in my mind and heart.”
I think of the still moments
I have spent watching the sunlight
as it glints, glistens on the water,
your loveliness reflected in the sky above.
The haunting music of the birds;
egrets, brown pelicans and cranes
as they glide overhead.
The soul-sweet, melodious cry of the loons
cruising over the water seeking
the delicacies beneath your surface.
Tree roots sunk too deep to measure
in swampy marshlands mimicking
dry land, hiding flat-bottomed houseboats,
and gators patiently waiting for their prey.
Now, you are no more.
Your wondrous beauty befouled by greed.
Your loveliness spoiled for decades to come
as black death gushes from beneath the sea floor.
A wave of oily darkness engulfing the delicate balance
of your natural beauty.
Lives and livelihoods lost
in the reckless pursuit of wealth.
Raped and rent like a virgin
ruined before her wedding day,
Where are your supporters?
Where are the concerts, the celebrities?
Where is the concern for you?
You are bereft and left alone
to slog through the mire tainting you
Sorrowfully, watching eyes devour
your plight, yet leave you to find
solutions without aid.
Now, Louisiana is tainted forevermore.
She is drowning beneath a flood
of black, dripping despair
and heartless unconcern.
La Belle Louisiane n’est pas plus.
— Patricia Dixon, originally a native of New Orleans, LA currently resides in Houston, TX since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ms. Dixon recently received her Master’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in Literature on the Professional Writing track. Her future plans include teaching and completion of her new book: Life After Disaster.
Where Laughing Gulls Hover
by Maureen E. Doallas
Pelicans, their bodies
become a slick of matted
and shivery brown,
bob with the rest of the day’s debris,
the plume of their ocean-bestowed miters
soon to be drawn into the crude?s undertow.
In the day’s last light
threading through oily surf,
laughing gulls hover.
Maureen E. Doallas is a poet, editor, and features writer who lives in Arlington, Virginia. The owner of a small Web-based art-licensing company, Transformational Threads. She writes daily at Writing Without Paper.
From the Spirit-Garden
by William Doreski
Sprung from balls of matted rootlets,
parasitic and clammy white,
Indian-pipe so pleased Dickinson
that Mabel Todd painted it
to emboss on the cloth binding
of the poet’s collected letters.
As you kneel to stroke the waxy stems
to see them blacken from handling
I recall that Mohicans derived
eye-lotion from part of this plant.
Was it from roots? Stem? The flower
that eventually crowns each column?
Much as I like this morbid growth
I fear that touching it might spread
the concept if not the fact
of decay. You laugh because
I keep my distance, cringing
as I watch. Nothing frightens you;
nothing in nature disturbs you
the way your failing memory does,
or your lapses into the Polish
you can’t remember learning
as a child. Every June this species
ratchets up beside the driveway,
this corpse-plant or ghost-flower
lacking chlorophyll and leaves;
and every spring we admire the way
it grows erect with fruiting
in honor of the rotted matter
on which all fresh effort feeds.
By Joe Dresner
so then the sparkleglittersheen
of the oil slick
cascading down the rainbow
flailing through the spectrum
suddenly brings to mind nothing
more than a man falling
down a full flight of stairs
out the front door
into a mangrove or beach
on the south coast of Florida
where his head springs
one two three leaks
— Joe Dresner is 23 year old poet from Sunderland UK. He has had poems published online in The Cadaverine and has poems forthcoming in print for Fuselit and erbacce.
by Alan W. Dunham
Oil soaked birds; crack babies born.
The woman raped must share the scorn.
Young people die in a far off war.
Young people die in the house next door.
Where’s the food so all may eat?
Who’s the bully we cannot beat?
Will we learn that we must care?
Will we learn that we must share?
Some mistakes are very small.
Some mistakes affect us all.
Thalidomide and DDT–
Consequences we had to see.
I have to learn to correct my wrong.
I must do it my whole lifelong.
The finger of blame I start to see.
I see that finger points to me.
I must care so others will.
I must share so stomachs fill.
Teach them kindness from the start.
Teach them love that’s in my heart.
–Alan W. Dunham, Ware, MA; Hadley Senior Writers’Group;”The Inquirer and Mirror”, Nantucket, MA; ‘The Ware River News”, Ware, MA.
Au Fait Comme Il Faut de rigueur
by James Dye
Foul oil souls,
Ok go on.
–James Dye is a college student working on his English major from Dubuque, Iowa. He’s appeared in a vast number of books, journals, magazines, and websites around the world since he started publishing in 2009. You may read his free poetry e-book at http://www.poemhunter.com or visit his blog at jamesjdye.blogspot.com. A collection of his poetry will be published sometime in 2011 entitled “Variegate.”
Earth to Water
by Amanda Earl
we’ve had our arguments
sometimes we fight over space
you always wet the bed
you’ve told me i pollute you
with dirty thoughts
but i can’t exist without you
and i hate the thought of this oil
again this oil
slick on your body
matte thick and murderous
yet you hold me anyway
you touch me anyway
how many times have we been through
why does this feel like it could be the last
Amanda Earl’s poetry appears most recently in “Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology” (Mansfield Press, 2010), Drunkenboat.com, the Windsor Review, and the White Wall Review. For more information on upcoming readings and recent publications, please visit http://www.amandaearl.com.
By Kelly Eastlund
Do not this human greed abide,
Know now there is too much at stake;
Rise up, rise up and turn the tide.
Plunderous nets sixty miles wide,
Leave swaths of sorrow in their wake;
Do not this human greed abide.
Her children have nowhere to hide
When appetites demand we take;
Rise up, rise up and turn the tide.
Islands of floating garbage ride
Sinless waves, oh the blight we make;
Do not this human greed abide.
Fish and turtles and birds have died
Oil-coated proof of our mistake;
Rise up, rise up and turn the tide.
And you there, on the shore, decide:
To stay asleep or be awake;
Do not this human greed abide.
Rise up, rise up and turn the tide.
–Kelly Eastlund lives and writes in the Oregon, where the astounding natural beauty is a constant inspiration. She has an English degree from the University of Colorado, and currently works a day job as a communications specialist.
Ode to the grand old bayou
by Jena Edmonds
This poem is dedicated to the people of the Gulf Coast, its wildlife, and a loss of a way of life.
Rest in peace, Great Bayou.
Our thoughts and prayers go with you.
Your eyes will close soon enough,
and ours will stay open,
to view the sickening travesty.
This trawl, this unforgiving cloak of blackness,
was once just a passing thought,
but now the nightmare begins,
day and night,
for the thousands of creatures,
great and small, winged and ones with fins.
They will claw and gag their way to the next tar based sanctuary,
and we will do what we can,
only to bid them a last farewell.
The sunsets will come and go,
but it will never be the same, ever again.
Only memories of a life once cherished,
of families and friends,
reminiscing with the old man in the sea as he strums his oil laden guitar.
The sounds of the bayou will creep up to our windows,
and into our very souls,
and we will weep as one.
The mournful cries of the egret will fill our ears as she puts her young to sleep,
for the last time.
Oh, Great Bayou, we feel your pain!
We will bid you farewell soon enough,
not a simple ‘goodnight, dear friend,’
but a wail that will be heard for eons to come.
We will kneel before your darkening tides,
and cast out a bough ridden with wildflowers followed by tears.
We will close our eyes,
and weep the deepest of pain,
for your children who have sailed across your great waters,
swam in your amber currents,
floated across to your unforgiving shoulders,
felt the embrace of the sunset as it gave peace to our souls,
that only your waters could do,
and to the many who are weeping now,
for the pain YOU feel,
we did not mean to betray your trust,
we beg your forgiveness, once again, perhaps for the last time.
Never again will we walk to your edge,
and not feel regret or sorrow,
or take you for granted,
we surely did.
So we ask that you go gracefully,
and when another great wind comes your way,
may it sweep across your Greatness,
may your Father hold you tightly,
may He take away some of the pain.
We pray He will lift some of the burden you carry,
for one should not out live their children at any cost.
So with these last words,
We salute YOU, Grand Old Bayou!
We thank you for a job well done,
for all that you gave given us,
and perhaps someday we can return the favor,
and ask YOUR permission,
to drill into your very heart and soul.
by Alan Edmonson
Gee Tony, I guess spills are just
an inevitable occurrence in living
in a world of uncertainty and risk
and -heaven forbid- inconvenience.
Sometimes, in moments of forced
compassion, I somehow find a way
to squeeze out a drop of empathy
from that slippery and squishy cage
which belongs to what I call my being.
And, in the moment, I guess
I think of you as not indecent,
which leads me to imagine we are friends,
until I spill my latte on your upholstery,
and the explosion of your fury chokes that love.
— Alan Edmonson is a soap bubble poet, who had worked in the oil patch as an explorationist during the first two decades of his adulthood. He currently teaches in a small high school in Oakland, California, and
writes poetry in his spare time.
by Barbara Ehrentreu
My feet sink into the sand on the beach
The soil’s fertile loam nourishes brilliant flowers
along the fence.The air caresses my cheeks as
I walk along the water’s edge admiring
black billed ducks and the curve of swan’s
necks gliding along the surface of the water
Meanwhile on a rapidly diminishing ice floe
Polar bears struggle to find food
their cubs hunted to the point of extinction
Baby seals are clubbed to death while their
mothers unable to destroy the predators
watch in horror
An oil rig has an explosion creating an oil slick
sure to destroy helpless sea creatures swimming
by the alien structure and drown the ocean in
sticky globs that float like black bubbles to the
shoreline to stick there like gum. In rain forests
loggers cut a swath through the majestic trees
cutting the air supply of millions for years. Meanwhile
people cry for the preservation of our animals and our land
The earth is our home
Would you allow someone to come into
your house and kill your children,
destroy your plants, spill oil on your carpet
and in your bathwater?
The earth has her problems, such as
erupting volcanoes, hurricanes slamming down trees, noreasters
shattering glass and uprooting trees,earthquakes burying thousands
creating ruins in seconds.
We accept her faults like we would a loved one
Always ready to love her.
But are we ready to kick the butts of anyone
who won’t preserve her goodness?
We are the caretakers of earth and must stand
guard with drawn swords when anyone tries to
lay waste to her.
–Barbara has over seventeen years of teaching experience and certification in reading. When she got her Masters degree she started to write seriously and had several stories published online. One is a children’s story, published on Story Station, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader”, http://viatouch.com/learn/storystation/stories/troublefollowleader.jsp which she discussed on Blog Talk Radio this June.
Response to a Natural Catastrophe
By Alan Elyshevitz
With distribution of surplus cheese hampered by inertia and panic,
stopgap nutrients, haphazardly gathered, crumble in our fingers.
Throughout the region, storehouses misplace potable water
and prosthetic devices. Dragonflies like helicopters massage
the troubled air. Down here we search for lost house pets
and furniture to burn. While the maladjusted landscape
irritates our retinas, the earth beneath our naked feet sags
like a used tea bag. The eruption of public sympathy subsides
as erroneous reports of salvation relax the camera crews.
Are the extravagant measures of our rescuers only a simulation?
— Alan Elyshevitz is a poet and short story writer from East Norriton, PA. His poems have appeared most recently in Ozone Park Journal, Talking River, and Arcadia. In addition, he has published two poetry chapbooks: The Splinter in Passion’s Paw (New Spirit) and Theory of Everything (Pudding House). Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia.
her pure perfect center by Daniela Elza it is not where they fall it is the way we look at them— just one crooked look can change the essence of such symmetry. tomorrow morning we will kick and fuss around in the slush while in a desert half a world away a child thirstily counts dew drops sliding toward the center (of a tarp). her fractal eyes filled with the miracle of condensation. she has nothing she knows: for now it is water she wields out of thin air. yet out of our nonchalance so casual out of the corner of our work day (maybe even before she is five) in her eyes a bitter condemnation will crystalize.
–Daniela Elza has released more than a 150 poems into the world in over 50 publications. Daniela is currently completing her doctorate in Philosophy of Education at Simon Fraser University. Daniela’s ebook The Book of It: meditations will be published in the Spring of 2011. Her full length poetry book, The Weight of Dew, is forthcoming with Mother Tongue Publishing (Spring, 2012).
By Stacy G. Ericson
a serrated wind
carves the bay
somewhere far north
of these living waters
where ice fleeting
forms her running halo
back and down
narrow, wild, and old
the Grey-eyed Daughter
on this bay
stud the sand
in an all-pearl place
shocking rose, lace,
hyacinth curls, gellid
glass of frost
where stone pallid
her veil runs north
across the strand
— Stacy G. Ericson is a technical editor for Arctic Anthropology, photographer and owner of Contrejour Portraiture.
Belonging In Nature
by Erik Estabrook
Whether forest canopy or mountain top,
nature is everywhere,
from a bouquet of wildflowers
on an irish landscape of green,
to folding tiger lilies
that help a lover give off steam,
nature is at the heart of me,
there’s no peace in this world
like by a favorite tree,
chattering with squirrells,
or watching great egrets bob for meals,
nature is everywhere,
we belong in nature and nature belongs around us.
By Valerie Fee
The comic books we loved to read
When we were children small
Were filled with icons, brave and true
Who never let us fall.
Oh Superman, you were so strong!
You flew without two wings.
You helped the weak, the frail, the poor
And strode as one, with kings.
A child may watch with shock and awe
Amazing feats he sees.
His Super Hero flew alone
Above the stormy seas.
We need a real life hero now.
To ease the pain of war.
Someone who knows just what to do
Who isn’t named Al Gore.
When oil spills clog our precious seas
And no-one takes the blame.
We need a stand-up type of guy
Who’ll fiercely face the shame.
It doesn’t take a super power
To figure out what’s wrong.
Our man would have a brilliant mind
Not muscles like King Kong.
He’d take command and show the way
To wipe out greed and pride.
But with a firm and gentle hand
He’d put ill will aside.
This special man would make us proud
And all the world would cheer;
Oh hurry please, we need you now
Let’s put an end to fear.
Our country needs you “super” man;
(A woman would do too!)
Please save our land so we can cry
“It’s fit for me and you.”
— Valerie Fee emigrated to California from England in 1969. She has a background in television, and is interested in all facets of the arts, including writing. Her short stories can be found under the name Valerie Byron on amazon.com and lulu.com.
by Suzanne Fischer
Oh, doesn’t it gush gloriously
in a stout barrel
under normal circumstances
that tumble is like flying
out a barn door
fast! the spray is fast and louder
But for this next feat–
mutoscope flips him down
But for this next feat–
have you pity on the vine?
thunderous like currency
Have pity, turtle-
rescuers, you rope-
handlers, swamp-path finders, assay-makers!
Should I not take pity
on this great city that can’t tell right from left?
where’s the key for the escape act (green room behind the falls)? Listen–
this is not the fast I asked for.
— Suzanne Fischer is a historian and writer from Detroit.
by Thomas Fitzgerald
Party two houses down, children chase the errant
basketball casually rolling across the street.
Is worse then Exxon Valdez.
They are trying everything but the burst
pipe has become unmanageable.
The emergency suture
has done nothing to stop the bleed.
A small pool of blood
forms under the child’s body.
by Brenden FitzGerald
Starbuck saw the end. He leaned into it.
His Quaker heart in dread: Ahab so well funded,
and politically connected had doubloon spiked
Let me beware of me, I lean too.
The New Jesus does not need to return.
Why stop gorging the blood and the body?
We haven’t heard complaining.
He’s giving it away for free!
THE NEW JESUS: Remember, “hold on to what is mine”.
Because I love you,
I give you the prosperity.
I give you the freedom.
I know. He talks through me
I cry on cue.
But you know, it was never his way to interrupt
one’s gluttony, though his children are slowly eaten away
by illness and war and benzene sores.
Houston. . . we have a problem with your fantasy.
[backbent and floating above the Niger River Delta]
SHADOW JESUS: Well played New Jesus! Well played indeed.
My long slow prayer for parity. . .(deeply inhaling)
has me doubled over backwards
in the Asana of Necrosis. (slow exhale)
Your new gold piece is struck by the de Medici
bearing Savonarola’s visage. Ha! so savvy.
You fashion a tight knot! I’ve seen this before.
I see assembled the New Jesus Legions.
Reading scripture by their bonfire flares.
They tell me that Texas
found the Sermon on the Mount
was inserted by vandals.
Well, while you were re-minting the Free Man
his coiner went all off register. The milling drive unpinned, the die now slices through the profile. It’s sloppy, see
— no more nose.
Things might get interesting (slow exhale)
Oh, and by the way, this is the latest from here
in case you have not been paying attention:
ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell with the Government of
Nigeria spilled 11 million gallons of Light and Sweet Crude last year.
And the year before that too. ETCETERA… FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS.
That would be 1 of your Exxon Valdez per year, since 1960.
– New York Times, June 16, 2010
So you might ask them how they have been coping
with your comfort.
THE NEW JESUS: How did they clean up the spill?
SHADOW JESUS: They didn’t.
The deep palace is constructed of everywhere.
A mesh of all the casualties of your comfort.
Look up and all is blue.
Stare through: knowing all above
is an ocean of black.
Look down and all is blue.
Watch the New Jesus vortex
trail a rapturous crew
to the floor where the moon’s
new moon, yawning, greets them.
Who am I to say it is not heaven.
–Brenden FitzGerald lives in New York City and entering the MFA poetry program at Brooklyn College
By Genevieve Fitzgerald
Beakers she called them at fanciful
Four, named for their pouches, hands stretched
Toward their glide. To clean their oiled
Feathers, now she must wait
‘til they weaken and
Won’t fight her help.
How sad a
–Genevieve Fitzgerald lives in Raleigh, NC. She has a graduate degree in English, is the mother of three children, and is editor of the annual Sertoma Writers’ Anthology and the Meredith College Solstice Anthology. She has poetry and fiction published in Carolina Woman, Fried Fiction, Mused, Rivets, Western North Carolina Woman.
says: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed…”
by Gretchen Fletcher
All the energy of the sun’s
fusion of hydrogen into helium – the bright burst
we feel and see as heat and light
making possible photosynthesis –
lumbering creatures once ingested
in the form of ferns or the flesh of fern-eaters.
Trapped under what was once dry land
and the pressure of eons, the energy has now been released
like a genie from a bottle with an inexorable rushing whooshing gush.
No longer recognizable as life forms,
the creatures have become great globs
of potential power, slick slime riding the waves to shore
in the form of a rainbow of broken promises.
Like ills from Pandora’s box, this energy cannot be put back.
— Gretchen ‘s poems in response to the assassination of JFK, the space shuttle explosion, 9/11, the Shock and Awe of the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina are included in anthologies about those disasters. All of her poems are not about disasters, however. She was a winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Bright Lights, Big Verse contest and was projected on the Jumbotron while reading her winning poem in Times Square. Her chapbook, That Severed Cord, was published by Finishing Line Press.
When BP Ripped Gaia a New One
by Janet Flora
Mothers can be too forgiving.
Ours sure puts up with enough.
She gives food for our nurture,
her own homegrown bounty,
which we play with or ignore,
choosing chewy chunks
of convenience over sustenance.
We take far more than we give,
often play too rough,
leaving marks and scars,
dug in with sharp, naive
to take what they can get.
If we prick her,
pours forth crude spurts
from her straining veins,
with only a bruise left to show,
moving, spreading, ebbing,
across her breast, throbbing
with each pulse of the heart,
in flow with the lunar pull,
her cycle continuing
despite our juvenile
needs, wants, games.
Janet Flora lives in Gloucester County, Virginia where she works as a freelance writer, full-time mother and part-time barista. She keeps a blog at http://janflora.wordpress.com.
By Audrey Friedman
Gods scorn those who forget
to worship, reduce entire civilizations to ash.
Brigid, Hestia…which of you is angered?
–Audrey Friedman is a newly retired Rhode Island teacher. She holds an MFA degree in Poetry from Vermont College. Her work appears in journals such as the Comstock Review, California Quarterly, and the Newport Review. Audrey is a contributing editor for Hunger Mountain.
by Terri L. French
shouldering the weight
of the oil spill–
–Terri L. French is a poet/writer, Licensed Massage Therapist and Barista living in Huntsville, Alabama. She has a degree in Journalism from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her writing interests range from news and feature articles, non-fiction, short fiction, poetry and (for the past two years) haiku. She is a member of The Coffee Tree Writer’s Group, the Alabama Writer’s Conclave, and the Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America. Her poems have appeared in Lilliput Review; The Heron’s Nest; Haikuworld; Sketchbook; The 2010 Limestone Dust Poetry Anthology; and “Petals and Thorns,” the Literary Works of The Coffee Tree Books & Brew Writers.
An Eye on New Zealand’s Bird
by Suzanne Frischkorn
A virtue, yes, not quite
the fifth ranking
angel, yet close;
its velocity a wave,
reflects, bends back.
I seek beauty
by air or water, corridor
and duct. A day’s
travel brings the elapse
of radar, its echoes
from unknown origin.
I risk collation in parallel
passages, and note
elements in piano keys:
chords, pitch, tone. I hazard
to expose symbol
and node. What’s worse,
and more effective?
The rip of a seaplane,
or the white-breasted
water hen, rare and flightless.
Suzanne Frischkorn is the author of Girl on a Bridge (2010) and Lit Windowpane (2008) both from Main Street Rag Publishing. In addition she is the author of five chapbooks, most recently, American Flamingo (2008). She serves as an Assistant Poetry Editor for Anti-.
By Vaughn Fritts
The nanopore on cell walls, atoms wide,
will usher complex molecules inside.
A pinhole in a shoebox will enlarge
the image of a tree, an oil barge.
An uncapped pipe, left like an open door,
in pristine waters on the ocean floor
will turn the tide of Earth’s ecology
and loose the Kraken on humanity.
–Vaughn Fritts lives in Huntington, New York. He has had work published in Blue Unicorn, Iambs & Trochees, Measure, and several online journals.
©2010 by Sara Fryd
Tell the mother dolphin your reasons
When your spewing oil drowns her baby
As she watches him die slowly, gasping for air
And she dies of a broken heart soon after watching her baby drown
Tell the pelicans when they are no longer able to fly or feed or lay their eggs
Tell the crab, the shrimp, the sharks, the fish, the birds
Tell the sand, the beach, the marshes, the platypus
Tell the incredible blue-green water of the Caribbean Sea
And the Gulf of Mexico
And when you’re done explaining again
Tell him that you have no plan at all, so you spend money
On advertising instead of cleaning up your spewing waste
Your ads make me sick
You can’t keep sucking greed out of the inside of the earth before it implodes
Why aren’t we standing on shore screaming
Screaming at the government, screaming at ourselves
Our way of life of purging and gorging, gorging and purging
Our destruction will not come
Not at the hands of our enemies
Who bring down the World Trade Center
Our destruction will come from our friends inside
Close friends, who speak English, whose actions are hollow greed
Still pissed they lost the Colonies in the American Revolution
Empty gestures of advertising, leaving empty nests near shore
Covered in oil
Go ahead Tony Hayward, don’t tell me that you’re a good guy
I already know that you’re a liar, that you’re no friend
Go ahead tell Obama more of your lies, then tell God
Maybe he’ll listen, I’m deaf to your lies…
–Language and geography are part of my DNA. I’m not sure when I fell in love with words, but I know that language feeds my soul. I’ve been told I eat words for breakfast. Tashkent, Uzbekistan is my birthplace. As an infant I was taken on a journey across Europe to an American refugee camp near Munich, Germany. This is where I spent my childhood. A place where everyone spoke in whispers about whom they had lost to the Holocaust. America is my home. We traveled from Germany to New Orleans, LA, aboard the USMS Gen Harry Taylor; then by train to Phoenix, AZ. Human beings who have unusual childhoods have many stories to share. I am one of those children.
By: Armando Garcia
Does opulence exceed your assitance?
Do us creatures discount your existence?
We flout when we trigger our blows
Wealth over flora , Rich above poor
For the fate of the deep is in doubt
As the orders of man carried out.
Timely the birds in the sky
Who elude the disaster and fly
But what for the wounded that’s left?
Who neither are clever or deft
Painful the visions displayed
Aching our earth is betrayed.
–Armando Garcia is student at Miami Dade College, and is also a musician and first time poet.
By Gail Ghai
Because profit is a prostitute
Because short cuts can cut long lives
Because rigged has many meanings
Because platforms have many levels
Because the close head valve won’t close
Because outrage comes from the brain
And rage comes from the heart
Because the locals call the Gulf, Paraiso
Because cake flour sands of Siesta Key never burn
Because mangroves bloom in saline waters
Because changing clouds carry messages
Because a hurricane has a mind of its own
Because we can see the darkness
beginning to roll
in the impoverished light.
by -Shelly F. Gill
as if veiled in oil slicks,
erasing suffering shores while
mourning kingdoms are stripped bare
into human garments of
-Shelly F. Gill is pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Rosemont College in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and holds a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She is a guest writer the mother-oriented website Mommies With Style. Shelly lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with her husband, young daughter and cat.
by Baru Gobira
A story of a romance in fossil attire
Cut! To the shore of sheen
Another attired to die
A pelican rises
Heavy of heart
Playing her part
Mate lost to sea
Eyes search distant shale
Empathy with a sparrow
Spared the ignominy
To die in harness
Horizon stained, by
Silhouette of an Oil Rig
By Michael Godey
Magpie took her last ride in the spoiled gumbo of dead fish and surrendered to the stinking sand and sea as wind pushed grace downward.
She once waited for mojo, music and the words of every song written.
But why a magpie, is she not a desert bird?
A Magpie takes in everything, even oil.
Her silver wings are now black.
She lies dead on the shore.
She was gull, pelican or other sea bird, now dark and shiny.
Her eyes dull.
Someone’s tears turn the silence into the transparent flight of her spirit forever.
The dark shade in the hot summer moves slowly south in shattered pieces; her feathers too saturated to take her body homeward.
Black silence above the water moves were birds and men once sang.
By Carol Graser
rises dripping from the sea
pops from the pilot whale’s
hidden ear, darts from the fins
of coral reef fish, dizzy
with color, rises bitten
by lemon sharks, crescents
of punctuation, is smartly tossed
by octopus arms, floats up
in disguise, rescued flattened
on tops of dolphin heads
taken for glistening rides, glows
from the inescapable dark
asking to be eaten, blooms
with the moon jellies, feeding
on error, is caught in seaweed nets,
hauled and discarded. Poetry calls
from the deep spit of a trembling new ocean
salts your hair and skin, evaporates
from your blue green towel
–I live in the Adirondacks of upstate NY and have read my poet ry at many community events including fundraisers, and anti-war rallies and at many poetry events around the state. I organize and host a monthly poet ry series at Saratoga Spring’s legendary Caffe Lena. My poet ry has appeared in regional publications such as Screed, Chronogram and Metroland, as well as in national publications like Lullwater Review, Southern Poetry Review, Eureka Literary Review and The Berkeley Poetry Review, among others. In 2007, Foothills Publishing released my first book, The Wild Twist of Their Stems.
by Molly Green
an oil spill in the gulf
birds coated with black rain
smeared mascara on a pale cheek.
is this a vision or a bad dream
my palms are sweaty,
my hands in prayer.
don’t leave us here in the muck.
save us from here
“Clear water in the palm of my hand”
by Yvonne Green
Clear water in the palm of my hand,
jewellery, philosophy, a toy.
Deep blue plundered by my fingers,
into diamonds, stars, tears.
Slicked as black as a teddy-boy’s quiff
Not wet, just sticky, unshedable
a trap, an unending, rancid well.
–Yvonne Green, born London England 1957. Publications “Boukhara,” Smith Doorstop. “The Assay,” The Poetry Business.
by Lydia Nichole Griffith
The marsh is fragile.
A house of cards
Each of which upholds the other
Now that you are listening
I will tell you the truth
This is not the beginning
Of the destruction
We have been slowly unraveling
The delicate tapestry of this ecosystem
In our efforts to cage
It has steadily
This slippery water
The silky land
A house of cards
Plankton- Ace of Spades
Curly shrimp- 2 of Hearts
Redfish- 9 of Clubs
Dolphin- Queen of Hearts
Coral, Turtle, Birds, Beaver
Shuffle the deck
Heron and Egret- Jack of Diamonds
Mankind – King… of Clubs
Of the striking hammer
Cut the deck
Shuffle it at our will
Left and right
Right and wrong
Mankind- King of Clubs
Doesn’t play by the rules
We play a different game
The takers challenge
The finger-pointing that has displaced one vital card at the bottom
And we watch
As it all tumbles around our feet
by Tom Goff
Saw the water, the pure water filling
a gargantuan scoop formed of soft green land,
the way she always does. Then saw
the lovely bow, the span of a great bird
wing-flexion wide to patrol the pure water.
Saw that the bow, as always, tensed its
gracious arc to shoot forth that arrow, neck
and bill to sweep up fish, and the comprehending
head gazing from behind that bill, lordly in survey.
She gazed upon the sweet scene with pleasure.
She saw the speary grasses, the wetland garden.
Then saw the glittering schools everywhere,
the swimmers who dart to avoid
that smart arrow, flitting and flickering
along the shelves, over shoals, in shallows
and depths: to her visible, so many thousand
miles on high, with her caught searchlight
not even the day dims, as day creates and aims
that strong reflection. She trained her beam
keener, and saw something
disquieting: a water shadow not of eclipse,
not of her casting, a stiffly thick and spreading
liquid, gigantic, blackening the pure blue water.
At the edges around that spreading shadow, rainbow;
but she was not deceived. Terrible to witness,
the glittering crowd of swimmers caught
and struggling, her beautiful elongate bows of bird
mired and dying, the grass garden fouled. What
freak earthquake, volcanic bad spirit, malevolent being,
could ruin the beautiful prospect that feeds her
(for she subsists on salt vapor, untrammeled tides)?
She is thinking of such punishments
for whatever power caused this wrack, she knows not
what. She may withhold her watery ebbs and flows,
hurtful as this may be to herself;
but she cannot eat.
She feels quite sick.
She may soon be withdrawing galaxies beyond
her power to draw and pull at the water-globe,
or herself be drawn and pulled.
Another solstice will find her lost
far beyond the burgeoning winter’s reach
ever again to clasp and claim her
as does a lover.
–Tom Goff is a poet active in the Sacramento poetry scene, with work forthcoming in Tule Review and Tiger’s Eye, and with several published chapbooks, among them Sinfonietta, from Rattlesnake Press.
The Art of Fish
by Linda Goin
The Gulf now is boneless and flattened
like filleted wastelands
of wetness and natural grip
Torn from roots like a bud
For a charm that soon expires without fluid
This fish you’re about to kill
With errant relish
Is fair game for your endless appetite
(You say birthright)
Winding down time in saltwater
Or marshes where pools reflected dapper
Sun or moon, your matter or reason turned
Into a hellion landlord or bum who yearns
For this fish you’re about to eat
With errant relish
Even spineless, this fish is braver than you
For all you do with the sea
you don’t take time to soak in her beauty
are more important than this fish’s art
As it shapes its death into prayer
to still your hunger
—Linda Goin, MA, is a full-time writer and an obsessed poet. She has many (now forever altered) memories of living along the MS Gulf Coast for fifteen years, including the birth of her daughter.
By Howie Good
I pass an hour rearranging chunks of the alphabet.
The distant tramping of the dead rattles the window.
I wave to our mailman. He doesn’t wave back.
The furniture scuttles sideways in any room
the death squad enters. They take away the neighbor
who mowed his grass at night. World War II tanks
are still burning. I should think about something else –
island women, naked to the waist, kneeling down
to bathe their wounded eyes in the river of dreams.
— Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 19 print and digital poetry chapbooks and a full-length collection, Lovesick, published by Press Americana.
Narcissus and Cain
by Laurence Green
The twice-told tale gone trailing out
at sunset says something of a man en-
amored of still waters that tell him
his face is the glassine breath of God
So that generations inland and distant
a man goes back to the shoreline
of a raucous sea and finds a constellated
religion of songs and prayers long forgotten
in a civilized world where mirrors manmade
form and reflect his image back toward him
unsettling and unset upon the surface
of sustenance and deep song
Starboard at sunset sitting atop a buoy
abandoned with the gulls
uttering and reuttering fathom
the man reconvened with his myth
prays for a pause in the clock
Starboard at sunset sitting atop his penance
the man wishes to know how the myth
of himself ended all those years ago
before the rainbow-bent stains of his
warped visage folded back and set him forth
He wishes to know how he survived
and if it was easy and whether
the punishment caused him any pain
— Laurence Green is the founder and owner of Back Pages Books, an independent bookstore and publishing house. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
by Jeffrey Grunthaner
Execrations too final to be hammered on,
is this the tranquil surrender to physical
paradise they promised me, like the ones
advertised on television? Diversions
as uninteresting as being scalped
pullulate like rabbits in a Coney Island
of the mind, like Disney World without
theme or imagination. The Floridian
soil abandons you to your absent center,
which is mine also, and which I don’t
know what to do with, slipping up
on the iced-over waters of the Atlantic
which fall away from me like the earth.
by Kenneth P. Gurney
If you were in outer space
and you looked in at the earth
and you saw that blackish
brown color bloom
where blue use to be,
you might think
a passing asteroid punched
its way through the atmosphere
and knocked the earth
so hard it spun a little faster
or altered its orbit
in a fair fight with referees
and a mandatory eight count,
but as the earth’s skin begins
to darken and no news
of the bout reaches the papers
your thoughts turn to the drama
of domestic abuse,
which really pisses you off.
–Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA. He edits the New Mexico poetry anthology Adobe Walls. His latest book is Fluid Shape of an Empty Womb. His personal website is at http://www.kpgurney.me/Poet/Welcome.html