by Yasmeen Najmi
that tidal space
of give and take
teases out the rugs
of weighted histories
a little scared
the hourglass spent
at sand’s end
we laugh and plunge
through infinite blue.
–Yasmeen Najmi published a chapbook in 2004 titled Ankh, the Hindi word for “Eye,” and is working on a second. Her poems appear in the Kolkata, India-based Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, La Bloga and the indie poetry anthology The Stark Electric Space. An environmental planner and public servant from Albuquerque, New Mexico, her poetry often reflects her deep connection to the ecology and cultures of the Rio Grande.
by Alcofribas Nasier II
sticky tarry gunky underwater gusher
crude submerged bastard
pelican and penguin and turtle destroyer
Alcofribas Nasier II always writes in red ink. is a graffiti artist. cleans grease traps for spare change and strong coffee. descends from satire. is a misanthrope and a recluse. is off the booze for good. and this time means it.
By Daniel J. Neumann
They rode on a horse,
Which carried them through darkness
When the sky would sleep.
They drained its blood for burning,
So they would have light at night.
The old wounds dried up.
They stabbed their horse at its neck,
At an artery.
It was too much blood to burn.
Their horse—Planet—stopped breathing.
The sky screamed in pain,
As tearful gusts blew the blood.
Their one horse collapsed.
They ate the meat of Planet.
Then, they saw what they had done.
They destroyed themselves.
They should not have killed their horse.
The sky gave them light.
Their ashen faces
Looked like horse blood as they cried,
But it would not burn.
Morning Begins with Roethke
By Laura Newton
of death’s stunning landscape,
the way one loss opens onto another,
how the scent of water brings us to our knees,
our foreheads pressed to leaves and moss.
how the smell of dirt and salt keeps us alive,
how here, at the Gulf of Mexico,
an osprey genuflects and lifts up
with a whiting in its talons, lands
on the low branch of a pine tree, pins
the living fish against the bark, and pulls
the glittering flesh apart with its beak.
–Laura Newton grew up on the Gulf of Mexico and has never willingly lived far from it. Her poems have appeared most recently in Snake Nation Review, the Green Mountains Review, Naugatuck River Review and Redheaded Stepchild. She has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is co-editor of a collection of essays, Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf, and of a collection of poems, My Last Door, by the late Wendy Bishop. She teaches business communication in the College of Business and literature and writing classes for the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Florida State University.
by Nicole Nicholson
There is an artery in the coastline, fingers spread,
bayou beckoning to the sea to come in
and travel up my arm. Gulf trajectories: seagulls
fly overhead, following the fringe of my fingertips
inland. The ocean climbs up inside my palm,
reuniting with river at the mouth of my life, which is
made out of little veins. Water: it is how
I live, how I came to you as a cloaked land
with veils of trees, wildflowers, and tribes traversing
the backs of my hands, up my veins, into my breasts
and belly. My womb has seen
millions of red men and women exit,
hug close to earth and feel me breathe,
and call me home.
I have billions, trillions, a galaxy of creatures
living just beneath the whorl of fingerprints. Crocodiles
in my teeth, turtles in my jaw,
pelicans and people in my pulse.
At an intersection in my wrist of unoxidized blue and bone
there sits an egret, white with sorrow, white with the sea foam
that I baptize my forehead with. He is
oil christened, stained with brown, feathers slicked down. You birth
dead dinosaur bones from the trenches in my knees,
caverns in my colon, light your fires and call them
Viet Nam’s children, little tragedies lit
when my eyes grow dark each night.
Candles do not burn in the ocean,
and boats cannot swim in God’s acre. There is
a necropolis of expired lives, scaffolding and chasses
of iron and bone coughed up and vacant on the ocean floor. It will
lie beneath this shroud of oil that burns and congeals
within the reach of my fingers. Let the poison
travel up my arm, hope that venom can be sucked out
by a kindly mouth and a bittersweet tongue. My wrist
is still knitting itself together,
bone halves seeking solace with each other
after being shattered apart by a hurricane hammer. And there is
no prayer for this, except for the cry in your own throat,
except for the children of mine that you wash the oil off of
like they were your own babies,
except for the sickness like tar balls resting
in the hollow behind your navel,
except for the fire launched from the soft beds
of your own tongues. If you find that prayer,
say it for me. I will need it to survive.
Nicole Nicholson was called to poetry as a teenager and has never left since. Now 33, she writes to communicate, engage minds and hearts, offer different ways of seeing and feeling, and to help others find their way back home. Her poems been published in Young American Poets and Strong Verse, and she has published two chapbooks to date: Raven Feathers and word. She regularly blogs her poems at Ravens Wing and is a contributor to We Write Poems, an online community of poets. Nicole currently lives in Columbus, OH with her fiancé.
Not One Drop
by Stephanie Nikolopoulos
I turn the silver handle
of the porcelain white sink,
stop the stream of crystal water
as I brush my teeth.
It’s unconscious, the habit,
an undramatic change, like switching
from whatever milk to organic milk,
so that I do not think of milk or water
much at all these days.
Up on the Upper East Side,
on April 20, 2010,
all is the same as I draw a bath.
I am the average American
using my average 50 gallons of water a day.
It’s not til I see the birds,
their feathers flogged with oil,
that my heart sinks in turmoil.
Oil tempted, crudely snaked
into the belly of the Gulf,
corrupting all in its path.
Eleven sons sacrificed.
Fish suffocated. Dolphins belly up.
A flaming sword.
Generations will suffer.
Generations already suffering
—at my hands that don’t dig wells for clean drinking water in Africa
—under my feet that run on treadmills but won’t walk for causes for women
—because my tongue is silent against ecological injustices
My knowledge of good is evil.
Evil because I know
Incidents aren’t isolated
They start out as a drop
That turn into a drip
That spills out of the bathtub
And becomes a flood.
Stephanie Nikolopoulos is a writer and editor in New York City. As a child, she held her birthday parties at The American Museum of Natural History. She wanted to save the bald eagles and the rain forest. She grew up and penned introductions to classic books by nature-lovers: Theodore Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly (Barnes & Noble, 2003) and Isabella Bird’s A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains (Barnes & Noble, 2005). She is the visual arts editor for Burnside Writers Collective, where she has also written about nature writer John Muir. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Gothamist, Literary Traveler, The Pedestal, and Resource Magazine. She received her B.A. from Scripps College, where she was a fellowship scholar and was featured in Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.
For Our Sins
by Karen Nowviskie
In the hills of West Virginia
we thirst for living water,
so we go on Sundays
at mornng and at night,
and on Wednesdays, too,
we go, looking for a well that
isn’t poisoned by
the runoff of our sins.
Someone said the Gulf
where fishes used to leap
is sacred, dead sea water,
but with our men holed up
inside the mountain
gasping like the fleeing fish,
we can’t imagine baptizing
ourselves in oil and salt and brine.
So we settle for a sprinkle
from polluted heaven springs
and mourn the lost that
fail to flee these poisoned, deadly streams.
–Karen Nowviskie is a lover of language and literature who has spent her life teaching others to read and write. She grounds her work in the Appalachian hills that she roamed as a child but sees her voice as one small thread in the connectedness of the universe. She has been published in Breathing Poetry,Bolts of Silk, and Gangway Literary Magazine. She blogs at Keeping Secrets.
Sea of Chariots
by JoyAnne O’Donnell
on the seas
rust no more
is a great chore
waiting to grab
for a seagulls cue
torn away like a brow
the sun cleanses
the oceans blue eyes
to sparkle and shine
turning and churning
hands of time
to the sea of silver bells
a great blue bow
wrapped and tied
around the corners
are sands to gold
to clean ocean barracks
the water can be turned into
a great blue diamond carats
some of the current
back into cue
borders of grime
will take a little time
then all the sea will soon chime.
–My name is JoyAnne I write poetry. I also draw. I studied in a online MFa program a few years ago. I also write short stories for small newspapers about fruits and vegetables. I was really upset about the oil spill its so heart breaking that I felt I must write a few poems on this.
by Otto Osip Ochs
The primal groan of the roots
and their dense underground movements
with the biting of the water’s apparitions
and its distinct bruises like hordes
of incarcerated hopes
birth suddenly in the city of catastrophe
where I loved the river and the lake
and heard the dying weep in muffled tones
like the bronze and silver Pantomime’s gaze
into the crevices of wings that once sparkled
like contraband blood or even more
like exiled women trembling into the dark
and I have loved the turmoil of sweet scents
and the way the body seeks its resurrection.
What is holy births lucidity
and what is corruptible brings putrid waters
where the erosion of trust and the erosion of land
tears at the tissues of earth
and compassion transforms into poisoned honey
in the city of catastrophe
the birds in the air driven off-course
and their confusion a myriad of wounds
from the open sea to the heavens
that always know more–
know about lost names
and the body’s ruin.
Around me the Crepe Myrtle is still in bloom
and the Magnolia pods are at rest
in soft radiant pinks with golden traces
and die not Live-Oak
nor the Banana plant and the estranged exotic birds–
Die not, die not “Love Supreme Love Supreme
Love Supreme Love Supreme Love…….”
“And sometimes I feel like a Mo-ther-less child…”
I gazed at the moon
above the putrid waters
and the disturbing air was stricken
with images of wheel-chair dead
the dead in white linen–
I gazed at the full moon
and the voices said:
“We, we were let go as humans, let go…”
— Otto Osip Ochs was born in Leipzig, Germany. Otto has lived in Louisiana 18 years and is an English Instructor at Delta Community College, in Monroe, Louisiana. His book of poetry is entitled “The Season of the Sacred Fool.”
by Sharon Olson
restraining the spouting oil,
the robots have promised they will wear masks,
their waving fingers clutching giant scissors
to cut the injured, bleeding pipeline
the hat on top of the sprouting afro,
the bouquet springing from the hand of the magician,
just before all that is the dangerous part
where the hidden squirtgun catches the inattentive,
as if what was escaping before was only angel hair
or linguini, and now we have a bombardment
of ketchup from squeeze bottles, the ones
available only from Big Boxes, as if
American commodities were running amok,
the slow food movement a dim memory,
to occupy the eyes of the president, who is
able to see only with the most cunning peripheral vision
Israeli commandos sliding down umbilical cords
from big mother helicopters, not intending to do
anything bad, really they weren’t, and surprised
at the reception they received, as they had worn
their dress uniforms, the ones they normally
wore to tea, and all of their rifles were paintball
guns according to the Israeli ambassador,
except the ones that weren’t that somehow killed
nine passengers on the deck, now how did that happen,
show me three liars, one has paint on his hands,
the second, blood, the third one is gushing oil
By Lydia Ondrusek
They are burning sea turtles.
Black smoke rises
from the surface of the sea:
the waves slide in to shore
filled with ghosts
leaving tarball eggs
unburied on the shore, unloved,
unplanned-for, to be
picked up by men with buckets,
Mourned by children
left to say goodbye.
Goodbye to all of it.
–Lydia Ondrusek is a long-married mother of two who describes herself as writing her way out of a paper bag. She has published fiction (mostly flash, although she, like everyone else in this and all alternate universes, is working on a novel) and her poetry has been published in Falling Stars Magazine, Crash, Leaves and Flowers, and Apex Magazine.
This is not milk
by Amy Ouzoonian
This is not milk
Not tears or piss
In a river.
These are not toy boats
Or plush pelican memories
At the Museum of Natural Histories’
This is a splice in the food chain
A darkness engulfing
fish of knowledge.
This is a decision to own up
To what has been done.
To make the choice
Do I take a cab or do I walk?
Do I take a train or ride a bike?
Do I build an oil rig or breathe in and
Breathe out, release this machine
Or be damned.
Amy Ouzoonian is a poet, playwright and yoga instructor. She lives and creates in Manhattan.
by Brigita Orel
The cracking and quaking of her body doesn’t
reduce the vigor in her depth
the flooding tears spewing darkly
rushing over her brittle brown skin
from her navel a heavy groan
erupts in cacophonous sounds of
the breaking ridges and vales
the dead make place for the new
nothing wounds as much as man’s toxic touch
his every intent pollutes her skin
smothers her breath until
and rots on her hemorrhaging mouth
it breaks her bones and veins
until they bleed
the bruises a backdrop for the jarring tune
of animal cries to someone who might listen
to hear her heart
the fading beat
the struggling breath – – –
the cry resonates from the fallen trees
the swept planes and the carcasses
the cycle is broken
no one hears
the screams of the Earth
–Brigita Orel’s poems and short stories have been published in BluePrintReview, Autumn Sky Poetry, Rose & Thorn Magazine, Foundling Review, All Things Girl, The Storm at Galesburg anthology, and others. She lives in Slovenia, where she works as a translator. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in writing at Swinburne, Australia.
Beauty Shop Boom
by Maria Padhila
Is it a myth that hair and nails
Grow on in the grave? These vain snips,
Dyed buttercup and crimson, may
The multitudinous seas incarnadine.
The engineers are looking for
A way to stop the bleeding. Been there.
Their defenses booms and concrete,
Like fighting fire with counter burns.
The seas, like us, contain multitudes,
We suck up the oil,
The fish suck up the oil,
The soil sucks up the oil,
And so it is that I suck
Up a blot of old Dick Cheney.
When I die, I’d prefer to be burned.
–Maria Padhila is the pen name for a Washington, DC, advertising writer and freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post and the Miami Herald. Her fiction has been published in Gargoyle. She was a finalist in the Split This Rock poetry contest, she was twice a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and writes the Capitol Cougar blog.
by Pravat Kumar Padhy
The snow crowned mountain
Kissing the ecstatic warmth of the sun
Exotic dance of the waves
Muses the songs to the shore.
Aspiring branches reach to the sky
Pearls of life treasure
The kingdom of their own
World is a creation of the delightful garden.
To shadow the silhouettes of nature’s beauty
And sea does not cross its shore line.
Let the river ripples its brimming life
Adorning our Earth like the Permian green.
Your perfect wings
carried you above us.
We envied your flight.
As you dove for fish
like you have for centuries
by unleashed darkness
You make it to a beach
where you suffocate
at a last chance for air.
You’re picked up
by a gloved hand
that spreads your
now limp and lost.
Michael Palmer has published poetry and prose in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Milvia Street, Ultrarunning Magazine, and the Berkeley Daily Planet. He lives in Berkeley.
by Richard Parisio
Picture a brown pelican cruising low
heavy above the breakers climbing
as though invisibly winched up
midair a moment
dropping in a nose-
dive like a bomber
out of fuel.
Watch him big wings beating hard shed
sheets of water as he somehow
gets aloft again his famous expandable
pouch stuffed full of fish.
a sheet of hammered copper
as the red sun falls and strikes
the ocean’s rim.
on the white shell beach despite the swarms
of sandflies while another and another
pelican prodigy the Lord somehow omitted
from his boasts to Job goes plummeting
headfirst into mystery and abundance
each dive and improbable ascent a miracle
a feast of fishes and a resurrection. Now
close your eyes imagine
in flying squadrons over oil slicked
till they must dive or starve.
If you can bear it
witness them emerging but not getting
airborne not with great wings
flailing not with ruined plumage
in ancient Egypt judgment
was a feather. Each violated feather
weighs enough to tip the scales.
Each comes a bloody dagger to accuse us.
–Richard Parisio has worked as an interpretive naturalist for over thirty years, in the Everglades, Pocono Mountains, at Assateague Island, and in the Catskills and Hudson valley. He is currently NYS Coordinator for River of Words, a national contest of children’s poetry and art on the theme of watersheds. His own poetry has been published in Hard Row to Hoe, the Woodstock Journal, and three regional anthologies.
By Ruthy Patch
Beneath our earthly dome where wonders reign
Our sustenance eternal, earth to heaven, has been betrayed
To trace God’s gracious pardon we scale the ethereal sky
To thrill amongst its powers, reclaim the orbs as ours
And soar upon the measure of man’s reply
Upon that heavenly scaffold swaying, vigils kept
Below the ocean’s beckoning where our Savior wept
May our sympathizing tears
Absolve our race beyond our years
And upon the ocean’s surging may festal banners wave
The faults of man defacing earthly paradise
Are recorded in the waves whose rival alters rise
And nature’s warring factions
Advance to conquer man’s inactions
Reserving pardon solely for humble sacrifice
So look within the hearts of mankind broken
Our hearts of sorrow for solemn vows unspoken
Were our deeds to rise victorious
Worthy causes, conquests glorious
Hallowed temples upon the ocean floors would rise
So convict us now and shame us if we easily fail
For days succeed to years on living waters frail
With voices blending, great and small
Prayers ascending as guilty fall
Let God’s celestial chalice soon prevail
May His giving waters quench our thirst
As sweet hosannahs proclaim re-birth
through the arts.
by Susie Patlove
black blood writes a poem on the sea,
a poem of last chance
floating toward us on dark waves
of greed and extinction.
Blue ocean, god of space and change,
of storm and flat peace,
undulating mother of forever,
into you leaks our death wish,
the slick of our pain
determined by a wanting
which came to this sea long ago
on the broad sails of empire.
The warble of a hermit thrush
still trills in the dark
evening of our woods
born of an old heart,
the one we began with
then set aside, the one that beats
over and under the ocean waves,
asking us to listen
with collective attention,
asking us to open
our most marvelous senses
to what is given
here on the elliptical path,
allowing us to return
to a place where the sea
rises and falls with our own blood,
where the sky we breathe
is the give and take
of something so precious
all wanting subsides,
disperses into a web
that makes of these deep
needles of greed
an odd anachronism.
–Susie Patlove is the winner of Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest, 2000. She was a finalist for Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in poetry, 2008. Her work has been read on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, 2009. She has been published in Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, 2009. And published in Atlanta Review and Marlboro Review.
by Jack Peachum
to a drift of wind, the downward fall of a feather,
the fish that finds its way in the dark–
oh, world you have made–
Weep, weep for the world you have made!
Here, the heron suffocates in a pool of oil,
the turtle dies aborning,
a place of foul smell and poisonous tides,
where the crab cannot live–
Weep, weep for the world you have made!
Make haste with your techno-future!
Do not recall the dying dolphin,
the polluted marsh,
or the light at twilight across the oil slick-
But weep, weep for the world you have made!
Be relevant and rich with laughter,
driving from Mobile to Gulfport,
earn and breed and succeed in your great city,
lose yourself in the music–
And weep, weep for the world you have made!
–Jack Peachum is a poet who has published widely on the internet & in print media. He is the author of Polyamory: Selected Poems & a novel, Tempest, about a p.i. in D.C during the days of Watergate.
by D. Ellis Phelps
Earth sets up a howl like a
caged dog moaning loneliness into
her skin dangles and hangs
a tapestry unraveled
her story falls from its walls
her waters do not rest
they tumble and toss distress into the
spit it up from under in
fiery objection to indigestible carelessness
eco-vandals scrawl territorial markings of a
tribe gone mad
i write on clean white
try to paint over her pain
pretend that a poem can
save us from the greed we are
digging to feed
–D. Ellis Phelps is an artist, writer, educator, and bodyworker. Recent poetry credits include Texas Poetry Calendar 2011 and Sustaining Abundant Life Womens’ Prayer and Poetry, 2009 (both anthologies available at Amazon.com). Her first novel, Making Room for George is currently under submission. She is a faculty member of the Writers In Communities program of Gemini Ink in San Antonio, Texas and an occasional blogger at dellisphelps.blogspot.com.
By Geoffrey Philp
blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”
The prophets have abandoned us to our lies.
They’ve packed spare clothes, retreated to the Mojave
Where they can still bless wild, untamed spaces
Praise the elation of kestrels, their aerial dance
Away from smoke that poisons the brave,
Threads a man’s lungs and veins with fine lace,
Sweetens a mother’s milk that darkens her firstborn’s eyes:
Rattlers coiled under a Joshua tree stand a better chance.
And it’s no use begging like televangelists for them to come back
Who’d want to listen on the “burning shore” anyway?
Everyone knows true holy lands are way across the sea
And you can’t Twitter prophecy anymore than you can save
Pelicans from the spray of dispersants or mangroves from an oil slick.
No, better to mortgage our dreams. At least, that’s what the voices say.
— Geoffrey Philp is the author of a children’s book, Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories, and a collection of short stories, Who’s Your Daddy?. His next collection of poems, Dub Wise, will be published by Peepal Tree Press in September 2010. He maintains a blog @ geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com
by James G. Piatt
Fetid oily waters overflowing
With eleven bodies and wreckage
Laced the southern coast with debris
The dark noxious oil spewed anxiously
From a broken rusted system that was
Guaranteed to be safe by B Petroleum
A cacophony of gushing sounds silenced
Shrimpers and fishermen who with wild eyes
Stared anxiously at the incoming darkness
Torn southern souls viewing the black tide
Stood hopelessly in empty dark spaces
Fearing the loss of their livelihoods
Once again we watched and wept
At the unbelieving grief and suffering
Forming before our unbelieving-eyes
Once again another unregulated industry
Was corrupting our nation’s well being
Led by the policies of a past administration
Oil barons sat on velvet cushions
Of ineptitude drinking expensive wines
Oblivious to the stark enormity of suffering
A government with too many problems
Already on their plate reeled unsteadily
As another piece of chaos was left to be solved
The party of NO sat on their negativity
And admonished the ineptness of the
Present administration to solve their problem
Along with the collapse of the greedy
Banking industry the oil industry with too
Few regulations and oversight failed too
But true to form, the angry citizens of
The nation with their short memory span
Blamed the present government for the mess
They failed to blame the oil company
And the previous administration who
Were both responsible for the bedlam
Why do they fail to question the existence
Of the actual reality they see before them
And fail to question their own blindness
How can they accept the confliction of ideas
Without questioning the paradoxes within
How do they accept that which they abhor
Is the world so totally skewed and
Words of reality so illogical to them
That truth is only found in distorted reason
While fighting so vigorously against logic
Did an unreasonable illogic take over reason
And did folly take over intelligent thought
Is the ideological quest now one of doom
And a return to the days of bigotry and lies
Are dreams guided only by illogical fear
In a world awash with sound bytes filled
With lies distortions and misinformation
Will sanity and reason ever exist again
Amidst the heat of such unreasonable inanity
What can any sane person do to restore
Logic honesty and pragmatic intelligence
— James earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University. He earned a doctorate from Brigham Young University. James is a retired professor and poet activist. Two of his relatives, John James Piatt and Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, were prolific poets who wrote their poetry in the eighteen hundreds.
By Jo Pitkin
So says Fish & Wildlife’s Bob Love.
Rust-colored crude sloshes
through salt marshes, reefs,
bays, bayous, lagoons
of a boom-locked coast.
It was good before.
Black gold. Gravy.
Now they say it’s the size
of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico!
How do Puerto Ricans skate
to and from their jobs across
that dark sheen, a slippery coating?
Hair-gel sidewalks. Streets
paved with chilled
I once ferried over contents
as thick as a fruit smoothie
to a harbored island
ringed with rainbows:
Hello, Miss Liberty.
When the President speaks,
I hear, “If there are problems,
we will fake them.”
why they can’t stop
the pulse from the
it’s like doing heart surgery
at five thousand feet.
Crews arrive with their gigantic
scalpels, scoop tar balls
the size of soda cans,
wipe their hands
on their jumpsuits.
They dive and dive again
where the cracked rig bleeds
and the mottled gulf
smells like Bishop’s
filthy Nova Scotia
On shore, pelicans,
loons, and ibis rest.
From a remove,
they are greasy rags
littering the cement floor
of a shop.
– Jo Pitkin is the author of The Measure (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Nimrod International Journal, Ironwood, Quarterly West, Vanguard Voices of the Hudson Valley, Connecticut River Review, Stone Canoe: A Journal of Arts and Ideas from Upstate New York, Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, and WaterWrites. She is currently editing an anthology, Lost Orchard: Prose and Poetry from the Kirkland College Community.
by Francis Poole
NYC is like an envelope of dreams
Addressed to itself.
Open the envelope please
To read the news.
A turtle will walk a long way
For a radish or a snail.
But a turtle cannot stand
On its hind legs.
If a turtle could talk
A balloon could crawl.
Why is a fish not a heaven?
Or is a fish a much loved
Bicycle tire that can swim?
Why is a Pelican a homely angel
Covered in tar?
The Gulf of Mexico is drowning.
Can New York help please?
I know New York can deliver
Candy to a forest or a dinosaur
To a space ship. Once after
Tall towers fell in flames
A toast was raised
To office spirits who still
Fly around the skyscrapers
Searching for their desks.
Soon ghost-birds from the Gulf
Will migrate north to join them.
Like it or not everything is
In a state of just about to
Tell you a sticky lie
You might even believe.
–Francis Poole has published poems in New York Quarterly, Poetry East, Rolling Stone, Shattered Wig Review and elsewhere. He edits BLADES ZE MAGAZENE, a tiny handmade poetry/art ‘zine.
By Charlotte M. Porter
Have my prehensile dreams evolved, forsaken trees?
Can’t blame Woman One plus snake and sugary fruit snack
for what I must not know to condo. This ape craves
leafy tops and insight implants about End Time
— truths, I suspect, large and noisome as whaling ships,
puzzling as canals on Mars (astute signs of thirst?),
fragrant as estate orchards trailing Chekov, buzz,
pink buds slipped across bounds, heinous as killing zoos —
spaces not found on four-color maps of my world.
Slow claimant, I fear my brainstem duped by Darwin.
Burled in smug silence, boss cells tether doubt, preach cope.
play taped can-do human workouts, fill paper cup,
feed me daily dope. Apparently late today.
–Charlotte M. Porter is a veteran historian of science, recently retired from the University of Florida, and a new poet published in Confrontation (Spring 2010). Academic credits for 2010 include a book on naturalist William Bartram, co-edited with K. H. Braund, and article on painter Martin Johnson Heade in Florida Historical Quarterly. Porter currently is guest editor for Museum History Journal.
by Evelyn Posamentier
while paleogeologists in seafood
restaurants close field trips
cogs in an evil dream
other eons, eras, sediments at large
subcontractors working overtime
time and a half again & again
the rupture gurgling we once
watched a broken bird on a beach
hard-faced from oil spill & litigation
phoned 911 & they called rescue
this bird we named charlie could not
count his brothers & sisters
replaced by another species
–Evelyn Posamentier’s recent work can be found in many places on the internet. She has two books forthcoming on The Argonist Online. She lives and writes in California.
by Steve Potter
cuz all her oil’d
been sucked out by man
to power his glitzy gizmos
& warm his fancy new caves
cuz all her oil’d
been sucked out
& spat into the sky as smoke
was the day the sky
swirled away into space
thru the ozone hole
man had made
was the day the sky
a blue-gray cyclone
into the drainpipe of space
was the day
this once green world
became another cold old stone
floating in the void
“Far Above the Earth a Hole is Growing” previously appeared in Long Island Quarterly, the other two are unpublished. My poetry, fiction and reviews have appeared in print and online journals such as; Arson, Blue Collar Review, Chrysanthemum, Drunken Boat, Galatea Resurrects, Knock, Pindeldyboz, Raven Chronicles, Runes, Stringtown, 3rd Bed and others. I edited and published a short-lived lit mag called The Wandering Hermit Review.
by Eric Tyler Powell
soaked in rust-colored crude, how,
once an ocean oasis of life, now it is
a morass of death. See this:
the blackened gulls lull in with the tide.
The rescue ships passed, the painted sides
melted from skyscraper flames growing
in the ocean. The rig workers, knowing
their friends were missing, lost,
were huddled into a hotel. The cost,
the executives of British Petroleum knew,
of libel could be overwhelming if they grew
too quickly, so they forced the employees
to sign legal documents before being released.
They had previously used brushes and chemicals
to scrub life from the corners and walls
where it gathers, 48 miles from the coast,
on a floating colony over deep water, the most
modern of semi-subs: The Deepwater Horizon.
Born in South Korea, 2001
the Deepwater Horizon
Reading & Bates Falcon
RBS8D design semi-sub drilling unit,
adopted by BP in 2008,
they floated it into the Macondo
Prospect off the Louisiana coast to
dig, ignorant, like kids in the sand, for
oil: “There will be great dividends for our
shareholders!” they assured.
No one really cared,
with the prospect of such profits, that
they were unprepared for a blowout at such depth.
Our impotent government
long since gave, like a complimentary mint,
the regulatory agencies over to the true father:
corporate power. The horizon never changes over deep water.
Like the eye of the vegetable father,
eye of God, pure light, cracked open,
slight, as if just wakening to see
what’s become of the game of marbles he
started light years ago, bored–the horizon
to eyes gazing from the Deepwater Horizon.
A line of sickly pale light
where ocean and indifferent sky meet.
“Become a citizen-worker
of the city of the future!”
“Become an emissary
of world energy!”
“Become a torch bearer,
a Promethean bringer
of light!” Thus they advertised
and gathered 126 lives
to sequester over deep water
on this odd geometrical daughter
of industry, pock-mark
on the face of the Gulf, stark:
lives to scrub out life,
lives to sustain life
of dead or dying life, lives,
mostly trained workers living in hives
of rooms, trained for operating
this great machine–
syringe designed for extracting
rich black blood lying
under the earth’s epidermis:
this great machine, product of–“Progress!”
they said. “Participate in
the Progress of Man!”–men
evolved to believe themselves (so they gloated)
gods, perpetually frocked or lab-coated,
over Gaia. A team of distraught
marine biologists wades out
through the crude in boats to
attempt to save a few
endangered sea turtles so burdened
with oil they cannot lift their heads. Hardened
by the scene, ruddy nihilism spreading that will kill
all, “Chances of survival,” they said, “are nil.”
Below the hundred-foot flames of the burn-box,
sea-turtles, porpoises, crabs, city blocks
worth of sea creatures at least,
are boiled to death: but there will be no feast.
Humanity will, like the Deepwater Horizon,
self-detonate; we face the oblivion
of the event horizon of our own design.
After us, Gaia’s virus, life will, in time,
recover, renew its perpetual play of forms.
There will be new eyes to witness these storms
of birth, witness the second half of our
star’s horizons, new limbs to brush new flowers,
new leaves, all these
forms indifferent to the debris
we’ve left, to our strange mountains
of structures, our dried fountains,
our odd plateaus of buildings:
the vines, the mosses will caress such things.
And the Deepwater Horizon,
two miles below on the floor of the ocean?
Nothing of it will fade,
but will suffer a sea-change–
this, when the earth is again
life-rich and life-strange.
–Eric Powell lives and write in Chicago, IL, where he is currently a MA student at the University of Chicago.
By Kelly Powell
That suffocates-sea-life-beneath it,
And spills the balance of nature in the sun
And makes death of two oceans that pass abreast
The work of fisherman is another thing:
We must come after them to make repair
Where BP has left not one bird on sea or air
But they would have the fish out of hiding
To please the stench of rotting sharks. The oil execs I mean.
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at the hurricane season we will find it all there
The President proclaims from the City on the Hill;
That what has been done has been a crime
An attempt to get the oil company to walk the line
But there demise would be greater still
Two powers meet to save the world, short of time
And set stronger regulations once again
They keep the law between them as they go
To each one the burdens that have fallen to each
Some collect carcasses, others tar balls from the beach.
There will have to be some magic to restore the balance
Stay where you are until our backs are turned!
Workers wear themselves out handling the dead
Oh, just another outdoor game
One on a side, It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the oil;
There is sun and there is wind
President finally halts further drilling
Fish will never leave the sea to use our cars
Liberals, whistle blowers never heard
CEO says it was the other guy’s fault
Disaster is the mischief in me, and we wonder
Could we put a notion in all their heads
Why does the government require reports? Aren’t they
To prevent monumental damage to our planet?
But here there were no such reports
Before I started drilling, I would want to know
What I might be driving to extinction
And how I’d be accountable in a larger sense
Something there is that does not love a spill
That wants the rigs torn down. We could say ghosts
To them, but they aren’t ghosts exactly yet
We’d rather they’d looked to prevent this themselves
They continue pumping oil around the globe
All of us bathing in its waste. We see this kind of thing
Over and over again, different ways another face
The powerful move in darkness it seems to me
Not of one disaster only, and not just the sea
Or what can be measured with a dollar
We like having thought of it so well
From both sides we can say I told you so.
–Kelly Powell is a bookkeeper and a mom, a friend, a shark lover. And sometimes a poet.
By Wanda S. Praisner
erase from memory the image
of that oil-coated pelican in Louisiana
trying to take flight. Never mind its wild eyes,
its weight cemented to East Grand Terre Island.
Wear dark glasses. Lie back. Allow sand
to bear the imprint of your body, a body
covered in sun lotion. In the rhythm
of sea meeting shore, inhale deeply.
In the way a wave removes footprints
from sand, rid your mind of what you read:
More than 500 dead birds found.
Smell salt air, feel spindrift on your face–
subdue unrest. Try to forget. Dare to sleep.
–WANDA S. PRAISNER is the recipient of a 1995-6 Poetry Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and fellowships from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She won the Devil’s Millhopper Kudzu Prize, the Maryland Poetry Review Egan Award, and First Prize in Poetry at the College of New Jersey Writers’ Conference. She was a featured reader at the Governor’s Conference on the Arts and at the Dodge
Waterloo Poetry Festival. She has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. A Fine and Bitter Snow was published in 2003 by Palanquin Press (USCA), On the Bittersweet Avenues of Pomona won the Spire Press 2005 Chapbook Competition, and Where the Dead Are is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press. She is a Poet in Residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
by Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik
Spill such a pleasant
benign easy word
in contexts so varied
so often is heard
Calling images of milk or a slip
in the snow from a sled
or an elbow tipped bottle of India ink
at a desk where you’ve read
at worst leaving a stain
a reminder of “whoops”
not a life threatening pain
A genteel accident
wiped up with a cloth clean
not a relevant nominator
For the Gulf Hemorrhage obscene
–Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik is a published author of several nonfiction books, a member of the Authors’ Guild and has been a freelance writer and psychoanalyst in private practice on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She is a regular contributor to Poetic Asides, a Writers’ Digest community of poets.
by Elle Pryor
stuck in a whirlpool of
never ending strokes.
Lumbering through black mud
and circling clumsy arms,
consuming oiled gas bubbles,
which destroy the germs of mobility
with insults and scorn.
Living here quietly imprisoned,
everything else is moving,
breath leaves their mouths.
The water, the waves,
muffled by the wrecked tar
marauding my annexed body.
Legs clasped by phantom hands,
never swim, can only drift,
spinning away directionless until,
lullaby time, rocked and soothed
gently to the dirty bank
onto waking land.
— Elle Pryor writes short stories and poetry. She has stories published in South Jersey Underground,
Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, Black Lantern Publishing, (A Brilliant) Record Magazine and Crows Nest.
by Joseph A. W. Quintela
–Joseph A. W. Quintela writes. Poems. Stories. On Post-it-notes. Walls. Envelopes. Cocktail napkins. Anything he gets his hands on, really. Did he mention that he likes your eyes? You may lend them to him at http://www.josephquintela.com.
by Margaret Randall
pristine mountains disappearing
into darkness, tectonic dance
and canyons deeper than our Grand,
water where color must fight to stay alive
and luminescent creatures
traveling an embrace of labyrinths.
Maybe a somber shipwreck,
barnacles transforming bygone luxury
and cargo that will never see the light of day.
Today those words mean profit
exploding the lives
of men who only need a paycheck,
families whose trust has turned to rage.
Deep Water Horizon vomits slow death
on animals that never had a chance.
Birds cannot fight such viscous waves,
marshes and beaches
die beneath the weight of gluttony
unable to battle deception, curb denial.
Despite the brightly-colored TV lies,
years of reassurance, warning,
CEOs feigning their concern
and a president playing
at Commander in Chief,
clean-up crews put on a show for the cameras
and refuse to answer questions
for fear of losing surrogate jobs.
With more reassurance and misinformation
launched to quell the rage
lies pile upon lies
where witnesses aren’t allowed to speak
and PR produces images
meant to calm a loss of hope.
Verbose pundits and TV anchors
urge us to ask questions: email, or twitter:
“we’re here to get you answers
and promise you we will.”
In lieu of reporting cause and effect,
Government in Big Oil’s pockets,
news that might push us
to rise and act,
in lieu of telling it like it is,
the experts continue to show us
shifting multi-colored maps,
technology’s stunning animation
as the great stain threatens
to swallow every trembling shore.
And they tell us it’s our fault
for buying the cars they push on us,
demanding fossil fuel,
refusing to make
the patriotic sacrifice.
BP and Exxon and the rest
are only trying to satisfy
needs they continue to create,
on a fabricated enemy.
Where is the newspaper
brave enough to publish
this generation’s exposé,
the government office
willing to quit its secret love affair
with corporate avarice,
meant to keep us safe, tell the truth
when truth means life
and lies devour everyone’s survival?
Once Deep Water Horizon
might have conjured
the sea at unimaginable depths.
Now it will be a memory
of treachery and cover-up,
the crime that goes on killing,
punishment contained by profit
and license to destroy
until there is nothing is left.
–Margaret Randall’s recent books include THEIR BACKS TO THE SEA and STONES WITNESS (both poetry), and TO CHANGE THE WORLD: MY YEARS IN CUBA (memoir). Forthcoming are MY TOWN and RUINS (poetry) and FIRST LAUGH (essay). She lives in Albuquerque with her partner of many years, the painter Barbara Byers, and travels widely to read and lecture.”
Drowning: A Family Reflection
Fear death by water
No matter the technology.
(20 miles long by 14 miles wide; Caldera’s August)
White caps and those smooth glacial stones, wolf-eye blue water:
Distant (however, visible) hot springs, no heat here.
We Paid for This, a Family Fishing Trip.
Holding it together as summer vacation’s month began to close;
Venturing upon a last early morning casting.
But the lake coldly spat, mother came back to shore fixing lunch,
A premonition of having to care.
Dapper step-father flippantly informed his tailor
“wait until I return
before you cut my suit”
A premonition of being free from care.
He left his shoes untied
“so I can get out of these heavy boots
if anything happens”
A capsized pulse Overwhelmed
Like a night’s cup turned over,
Extinguishing a candle.
Mammalian diving reflex
Energy saving: reducing heart rate
Restricting blood flow, blood shift.
Oxygen starvation Caused
Swimmer’s heart attack Else
Forced under by an object denser than water.
Younger boy’s fingertips etched into the elder’s back,
As if trying to swim away, but his shoes sank, double knotted,
A premonition of aspiring to care,
Not knowing how.
When we strip our life from our life, alienating it
From the 280,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily.
all jumped off.”
So calm and seemingly deep before cascades.
After: superficial shards.
With enough of them
The rocks at the bottom remain unforeseen.
With state of the art bridges.
How will we know when the water begins?
How will we know when we arrive?
The only way: jump off; know and die.
Weather to weather,
Coats continuously worried peeling,
Reporting suicides first:
How we see into water again.
Bursts at the surface
Where you once gazed
Until your motorboat
Pebble falling from your palm?
Not quite accidentally
Plunging, ripples reverberating outward,
Those, are those echoes?
Depressed bed (sweaty sheets, water enough)
Son of a river god and a nymph.
Tiresias informed these strange parents, noting inner heart rate,
(As a doctor warns of congenital disease:
Preparing, a long night, preparing)
“he will live till fully gray
unless he gazes upon himself.”
Quality of mirrors, a history lesson for later.
In the saying, it was as if he was trying to be heard by others,
Into his pools of smoke, always busy
Working on his abs, practicing guitar.
Shiny colleges wouldn’t care about his sex life, anyway.
One of his plaintive women, rejected Echo,
Withdrew into a lonely spot,
Playing again the last words she heard,
As a curse,
Until merely a whisper remained
In the distance, off a cliff. What spans?
The future of a bridge.
Who would build one if he knew saints would die?
Who would buy a cup of coffee if he knew the externalities?
Who would say a word if he understood causation?
Another curse, a sting in the water, a life in a day
Sent Narcissus’s fateful direction,
to know unattainable love’s rip
You ask yourself again, before landing.
You answer, before landing: knowledge is the curse.
Falling in love with…
Falling into…your second cup of tea.
University. His books include Provisions (Interbirth, 2009),
5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the
Question More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website.
by Bhupat Rawal, Ph.D.
Ground fire feeding on Oil.
Oil in oceans,
Beaten by waves,
Chokes life in oceans.
What are oceans for
If not to nurture life therein?
Let’s not forget
We too evolved from life in the oceans.
Your roots are in the oceans.
Let no one smother them
by Elisavietta Ritchie
I have known hurricanes.
Mostly those that broke
in another time or state
somewhere up the coast,
And, first-hand, one that surged
over bulkhead, covered lawn,
flooded woods, crept up steps—
surf beat all night against our house.
Flood swamped the car, stored gear
and water pump. Still, our power worked.
Creatures reached the higher slopes,
most wrecked terrain regrows.
Yet I know those other coasts
tropic and exotic,
roadless and uncharted,
awash with people and heat.
Now that sea inscribes its own
trajectory, leaving new
rivers, gullies, mounts and maps,
unnamed orphans, nameless mounds.
Did all the gods conspire
for this terrible housecleaning?
Gods are a capricious lot. Even here,
the drowned keep tapping at our windowpane.
by Neil Reid
Accidents are when you stub your toe.
Barefoot is calamity.
Maybe we can pity the child or sleeping fool
some arbitrary random misstep.
But then, there’s gravity, and go ahead
plead your reasonable case,
How you didn’t mean to step off that cliff.
Dare we embrace love that unconditional?
Hard truth, soft spoken then, we are
children yet on this Eden’s shore.
We cling to pretense of maturity, our
multi-headed serpents tooth, our superior
courts of reasoned fare, our fire flights,
our daily comforts at any unseen price,
our willingness to believe our own agenda,
yet done blind at our peril. Some stubbed toes
are fatal injuries.
Our cradle’s regard is so complete,
so willing to allow our consequences,
might just be an empty plate
that sorrow will not fill.
No fish in the sea, only fire instead.
No us to remember our hungry young fate.
Neil Reid, “I am a purely amateur writer and deeply satisfied by the study and exercise of working with words, and as ‘published’ on my own personal blog, Barely Audible, and for which the interactive nature I am fully grateful. I’ve had poems previously published by Banks of the Little Miami and Cats With Thumbs. I am also site administrator for an on-line poetry community, We Write Poems.”
Who Will Speak For The Fishes?
for the fishes
in the creek,
mouths crooked, scales
dull and fallen away?
Who will stand up
for the salamander
in the mud,
by its chameleon skin
from the brackish
beneath the floor
beneath the foundation
stones of our safe houses
a muddy planet teems.
The earthworm tunnels
resurrecting the dead.
Micorrhizae and plant roots
flourish in symbiosis.
the mysterious currency
carries the world.
for the fishes
by salt in the sweet water streams
of their cool running?
Who will miss the mussels
and the moss enough
to say enough?
Take your hand from the spigot,
you who are blind
to the invisible universe.
You, too, are mostly
and your ways
will parch us all.
by Max Reif
I sing a dirge for our planet,
mourning the waters of the great Gulf,
mourning the white pelican,
the great fish and dolphins,
the shrimp and oysters,
the marshes and their wildlife.
I sing a dirge for our way of life
as we flail toward a new way,
a dirge for our greed
that locks out new ideas
for the sake of profit.
I sing a dirge
for the old ways,
for the ones
who refuse to change.
And let me
sing in the new, Lord,
let me beat my drum and sing
for the new inventors,
pulling ideas from Higher Mind,
bringing them down to Earth,
that which was impossible
because, my God, in You
all is possible.
We have scarcely sounded
even the shallows
of Your unfathomable depths,
all Love, all Love,
in which You
have already foreseen
our new day,
as You foresaw
the end of these old ways
from before Creation itself,
and long before the day
a man in Pennsylvania
dug a hole to bring up
liquid remains of ancient creatures
transformed by time and pressure
into the elixir
to power a new civilization,
the engines of the four-wheeled visions
rolling off the assembly-lines
to revolutionize our cities, our lives.
Oh, in Your hide-and-seek Game
You foresaw all this,
You hid this key
for the new age
that is now the old age,
and knew we’d come upon it.
You barely contained Your Laughter
when You put it in someone’s head
to go looking for it,
right where You hid it
millions of years ago.
Now we mourn
for our beautiful Gulf of Mexico,
slimy with that same substance
pouring out of a contusion
in the Earth a mile underwater,
and for the men who died
in the conflagration that caused it,
and for a million birds and fishes
and shellfish and plants and trees.
And we know
that this is no surprise
to Your Eye,
for which to envision
is to create–
“You said ‘Be’ and it was.”
And as You saw this day
from before Creation began,
so You see
to the next stage
of our stewardship,
and the way
that transition will come about.
Oh God, Sustainer of our world,
Lead us into a new age.
Our lives are Yours,
our fate is Yours,
our world, our beautiful world,
is a ball You spin on Your finger,
You Whose Game this is,
Who drew Creation
out of Nothing’s hat
and can dunk it back again
with a wink
any time You have the Whim.
We who are at Your Mercy
surrender only to Your Love.
Help us to trust You
and to see by the light of our faith,
which is really the Light
from Your Lovely Eye.
-Max Reif is 62 and lives in Walnut Creek, CA. He devotes mornings to writing and afternoons teachs preschool. This poem/prayer came out of a recent meditation.~~~~~~~~~~
Everything That Has Breath
by AE Reiff
Hierophants being searched will say
what comes to all
who breathe in air
with water breaths,
is temporary exhalation.
Everything has breath,
everything that has breath
recalls what having breath is worth.
When cell is off
And you commune with Silence,
Not a creature like some other,
unique at times,
I knew in a moment
I had breath. Here I am,
everything has breath.
everything has breath.
by Stuart Reininger
They called it a leak
Like a drip from under the radiator
Or when the faucet needs a new washer
Then it was a spill
As when the milk bottle tips
Or when you nudge the beer glass off the bar
Darn, had a few too many, you laugh
Words paint these pictures in our minds
And can so obfuscate the reality
Like “the final solution” shadowed the fact
It’s not a leak or a spill
It’s a gusher, a torrent, a deluge
It equals but doesn’t surpass
The lies and evasions they’d have us believe
There is one truth however
To countless lives
It will be the final solution.
–Stuart Reininger is a professional mariner and writer. He lives in Monza Italy and Mystic Connecticut.
Will the oil spill hold a gift?
As dispersements helped the oil
To be carried in the vapor
To someday reach the soil?
Water rises to the sky
Through active evaporation
Carried here or there
To water vegetation
What if the oil from underground
Is carried on the wind
A desert we may someday see
And a paradise will end
Yet days of old brought changes
Something now ignored
A famine forced the Irish
To find a distant shore
Maybe that’s what’s needed
Dark ages brought to end
A people steeped in endtime theory
Forced to live again
–Rex is a novice, in as much as he’s never received compensation for his work, never published; spent little effort trying to do so. He ascribes to the philosophy set forth in ‘The Secret’ and believes that as a society we’ve allowed our power to be cyphoned off. The Hundredth Monkey Legion illustrates the tipping point metaphorically. The Gulf Coast Disasters point to the metaphysical creation literally. We are part and parcel of the Unified Field and until we refocus our attention to ourselves as part of the problem, we will continue to be assaulted by the power of our own collective spirit.
Possibility is a Verb
by Melanie Richards
I remember the night I named you.
The air was warm, the waves gentle,
the ice cream dripping on my hands.
I was leaning against a hot fender
and laughing with my three best friends.
The night was thick with estrogen
and we couldn’t help but proclaim
what we would name our kids,
what our wedding dresses would look like.
But you’ll learn someday that things change.
Their voices are songs I can barely hum.
The world no longer feels like a cradle for dreams.
Seems like everyone in a pressed suit
wants to rob votes or remove mountaintops
or look the other way as oil pumps through the sea.
It’s hard to keep a twinkle in your eye
when there is so much to cry about.
That doesn’t change the fact that I named you.
And the image of you that I have conjured,
the child which exists only as an idea,
grows—impossibly—more true and tangible still—
it is you I am fighting for.
And when you finally get here,
when you take your maddenly wonderful first breath,
the air will be clean, the water pure,
the soil whole and the world filled with joy.
–Melanie Richards is a graphic design student at the University of Florida who believes in the golden rule as it relates to ecology. Her poetry can be found at http://moremoarmohr.tumblr.com.
by Kathryn Ridall
aging mermaids, friends
of each other and the sea,
slipped together that day
into Kailua Bay.
we paddled out through
the jade ripples, adding
this and that to a conversation
that spanned the years.
in a moment already bursting,
a mottled head and curious
black eyes arose between us—
a shelled lady joining
We bobbed together,
the three of us in the great
salt cradle under pearly skies—
for a brief instant, returned
to the garden.
Today the news differs.
We hear of Kemp’s Ridley turtles,
burned alive as we set fire to the
vast oily slick, the once free flows
of the Gulf. Boats of helpers
there to help our carapaced
Can you hear the silent
screams of the turtles, smell
their scorched flesh? The darkness
grows deeper now, the garden
fades yet further away.
–Kathryn Ridall is a poet from Eugene, Oregon. Her work has been widely published. She is the editor of the anthology, When the Muse Calls:Poems for the Creative LIfe, and author of The Way of Stones, a Finishing Line Press chapbook.
by Ron Riekki
to the E.R.
with internal bleeding,
especially upper GI,
his abdomen tender
they might have tarry,
or even spit up blood
that looks like coffee
it looks like
they’re spitting up
–Ron Riekki’s novel U.P. has been one of Ghost Road Press’s top ten bestselling books for 75 weeks and counting, http://www.amazon.com/u-p-R-Riekki/dp/0979625564. Gypsy Daughter Press is publishing two upcoming poetry chapbooks of Riekki’s entitled Leave Me Alone I’m Bleeding and Poems about Love, Death and Heavy Metal.
by Margaret A. Robinson
The sea we insult
with our feces
creates the water
the air we take in,
breath after breath.
Because the ocean seems infinite,
because we can’t plumb its depths,
we imagine no limit
on the death we put in
the life we take out.
we build our sand castles –
turrets of dripped-mud,
a portcullis of twigs,
flags made of kelp.
Little by little
the incoming tide
erases the moat.
The pebbled walls sink.
The surf we’ve corrupted
brings our collapse.
–Margaret A. Robinson
by Laura Rodley
that keep me going
the bluebirds that flit
across the road in front
of my car past the pasture
where our pony Violet used to graze
that keep me breathing
their jump-rope see-sawing
their long tongues seeking
sweet nectar from purple bells of comfrey
so trusting, flying along the trail
beside me, landing a foot
away for birdseed, raisons and nuts
It is the barred owl that swoops
in front of my car, an answer to my prayer
am I doing what you want, Lord?
Am I doing what you want?
It is the tapping at my window
of the starling, how he taps
only at my window
It is the red-winged blackbird
so light he sits on the ripe beaded head
of the meadow grass and it does not bend
It is the cinnamon colored
wings of the sparrows
cleaning up dropped millet
the long legs of the great blue heron
who hasn’t yet arrived this summer
It is the promise of flight
of a lighter heart
the promise of tomorrow
that they will break bread with me in the morning
always there, never ceasing their song.
And now you tell me their tongues
are coated in oil
and now you tell me their wings
are tarred with sludge
and now you tell me
their eggs may not hatch
nor the turtles, the crocodiles
the frogs, and other amphibians.
Where is Jonah, why is he
not walking out of the mouth
of the whale with a dust cloth
and mop to clean the oil up.
Where is BP who originally
paid for the drilling.
Where is God as he sits
in heaven crying, wiping his eyes
on clouds streaked with oil,
where is the diamond
tipped drill that chipped, stopped,
having to start drilling the edge of the new pipe
stopping the oil volcano all over again,
where are the sweaters
that I have lining my drawers,
the ache in my heart
now open to air.
–Laura Rodley’s chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, published by Finishing Line Press was nominated for a Mass Book Award, and includes work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her second chapbook, Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose releases this fall, also by Finishing Line Press. The ocean is her second heart.
Together We Rise Again
by Jennifer H. Rogers
We can do this together
We have done it before
Brothers and sisters
Drop your knees to the floor
Show this great country
Show the rest of the world
Oil cannot destroy us
We’re not so easily soiled
Yes, our Saints showed us
That faith is the path
“Finish Strong,” they chanted
Now this is our task
There will be time for punishment
There will time for justice
But now we must rally
For now we must focus
Take care of your neighbor
Reach out to your friend
We are a community
Prayers we must send
No one can deprive us
Our pride and heritage
Lord, we make you this vow
We make you this pledge
Let us rise up again
We will heed your call
We will support each other
Cajuns one and all
Jennifer H. Rogers practicing attorney in Austin, TX, and poetry is her outlet for sanity and grace. She graduated from the University of Houston with a Master’s in Biology and a law degree, and she is a proud Saints season ticket holder, a proud native of Mid-City, New Orleans, and a committed member of the Who Dat Nation. This poem is her poem/prayer for her beloved fellow south Louisianans.
by Jonathon Rose
A darkness growing faster as it hides the sea from sight.
We have fought so long to stop it to hinder its advance.
The shadow keeps on spreading not giving us the chance.
We knock down our mountains high and we’re blocking out the sun.
The ocean once so full of life We drilled with our machines.
We make holes in the the oceans Floor and panic when it bleeds.
We’re draining Dry this world of ours taking too much then some.
We dig more landfills and build more roads in the name of growth
The ones who fight for what they love we despise and loath
this world will punish us now and we will be without relief.
We must make amends and pray that there is time.
Save our Planet while we can before we Cross that line
No one ever made their point While cowering on the Ground.
Save this planet save the seas it this is the only way.
Spare our lifeblood from this death So make your Stand today.
(for the people and the wildlife of the gulf)
by Dr. Sidney Rosenblum
The rig that blew
was called the Horizon
it gave the ocean
the tomb of the unknown Pelican
who can sleep
while the birds and frogs
are choking bewildered
drowning in crude
they don’t worry
about the price of
a gallon of gasoline
who can sleep
with all that oil spilling
in the marshland
making its way into our faucets.
America has failed itself
its heart is a mile
deep in the bowels
of the earth’s gut gushing black gold
the smartest minds have no erasers
on their pencils
the perjured tongues of men
from within have come to destroy
from sea to polluted sea.
— Dr. Sidney Rosenblum, DC is a practicing chiropractor in New York City and author of a book of
a book off poems titled THE ANGINA DIALOGUES. Dr. Rosenblum is very happy to have discovered the Poets For Living Waters site.
by Joseph Ross
as waves comb the water
toward the gulf’s shore,
in a brushing rhythm, reliable as air.
One wave captures
my attention. It holds the
sunlight for just a second,
that airless moment
when the wave curls
over and its wet curtain drops,
forcing foam and salt water
to twist in the earth’s
most ancient dance.
It is that sunlit instant,
that gasp in the history
of the world, into which
we must swim, or else
everything turns to sand
–Joseph Ross is a poet in Washington, D.C. His poems have been published in many
journals and anthologies including Poet Lore, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and
Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2. He co-edited Cut Loose the Body: An
Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib. He teaches in
the College Writing Program at American University in Washington, D.C. and
writes at JosephRoss.net. Visit JosephRoss.net to read his blogs about poetry, politics, and spirituality.
by Olivia Rossel
The Gulf of Mexico?
It has an Emerald Beauty,
That only it can show.
But that beauty has been destroyed,
By an orange blanket of death.
And it has been killing everything,
That regretfully crosses its path.
But what’s absolutely the worst part,
Of this tragedy,
Is the fact that because of man,
This is happening.
Oh, its such a disatser,
It makes you want to sob.
And we have tried to fix it,
But nothing’s done the job.
But we can’t give up hope,
On stopping this crisis.
I believe with all my heart,
That we can stop this maddness.
–Olivia Rossel,13, is resident of Crestview, Florida. She loves poetry, and has been published before. Her poem ‘Tears of Remorse’ is in “The Famous Poets of The Heartland” poetry book. Poetry is her passion and sadness is her muse. She is aware of the effects this whole disaster has created, but still sees that light at the end of the tunnel.
by Dr. Robert H. Russell
The State of Louisiana,
Land of muskrats and of marsh,
Is getting many deadly blows
And treatment that is harsh.
We live on fishing, oil, and trade
From tourists to our state;
And shutting down this livelihood
Will surely seal our fate.
Our people are resilient;
They know how to bounce back.
Fix the oil spill, but let us drill
To keep our lives on track.
— Dr. Robert H. Russell, 306 Haynes street, West Monroe, La. 71291 is a former college professor who taught ten years and has been a member of the Louisiana Poetry Society at chapters in Monroe, Shreveport, and Lafayette.He has had poems published in Apostrophe Magazine, Lyric Louisiana, and others and also published a book of light verse, “Life’s Lighter Moments”, whose copies are in the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe.
by Peggy Rutland
What has gone wrong?
Where is the bright blue that comes shimmering through
our crystal clean Gulf waters?
Where are our shrimp and our crab and our squid
that we feast upon for starters?
What shall we do, listen to you that all is safe and harmless?
Where will we turn since the waters now burn
and the oil is all around us?
The disaster is here and it is our worst fear
that we don’t really matter
Please fix the spill soon or our future is doomed
and you will never again hear our laughter.
Man is nearly 60% Water
by Anne J Ryan
(after the spill in the gulf by British Petroleum)
to be enlightenment
when Masuru Emoto
brought those images to our view
He showed us water cringing when
it received harsh words.
regrouping into glistening joy
when addressed kindly.
Water came to us
even more of itself
I say it seemed so
We offer this:
An assault upon our watery womb
such as has never been.
in pursuit of something to burn
our all too common reaction
to nature’s generosity.
the staple American response
to native people,
our very air, water
I do not think Noah can build enough arks
our own night terrors
bogey man under the bed
voracious dragon in the lake
For whom enough is never,
we court what devours
misunderstand the cross
attend to neither vertical
The circle breaks.
The water that is life
Water that is us
These changes that we bring
this climate we create
will change , distort
the very shape of water.
–Anne J Ryan