Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oil Spill Lament

Everyone is all in an uproar over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is easy to see why. What isn't so easy is what we are going to about it - because in the end, it is likely too late to prevent much of anything connected to this huge fiasco.

There is a big discussion about blame - and power. Power is the crux of the matter. The power to repair the rift, the power that allowed drilling for oil in the middle of the world's largest ecosystem.

We like to think of the oceans as being able to process everything we pitch into them, but we are quickly learning that isn't true at all. We have this big mess to clean up, and while BP has a primary responsibility, surely the United States and the other political entities in the Gulf are also going to have to put forth a great effort to clean up whatever amounts of goo and tar that wash up on their beaches and shores.

Power is at the bottom of the problem, but not one of us have the power to turn back time and impose the proper regulations and policing of those regulations to prevent the mess in which we are now bathed.

I wish we could wave a magic wand and see the ocean as pure and clean once more, but in our greed and reach for power we have created a sickness that will eventually circle the globe.

I submitted the following poem to the New Yorker this morning, and I guess it will be their property if they choose it. In the meantime, I would like to share my thoughts on this disaster. I hope you like it and that you keep on the sunny side as much as you can. Terry

Power Play

The electric power went off this
Morning and everything stopped.
The google-eyed plastic frog
That doesn’t quite keep time; it
Stared back at me, the subtle grind of
Its gears and crimson sweep hand stilled
While the world we know
Decided whether or not to awaken at all.

I planned to do a wash and
Rendered paid some bills, and then
I had a thought to read a
Page or two about Australia’s early days.
It seems to me that far country had
Its own wild, wild, wild west that
Kept the farm wives looking over
Their shoulders in case of rape or worse.

I shivered in this big, damp old
House that holds my heart strings
Hostage with its trailing ants
And termite-nibbled kitchen walls.
I wondered then, why what comes free
To all should cost so very much –
When the wind blows every morning
Just as it has from the start of time.

I guess the end is near – the prophets
Are polishing their holy rants
And earthquakes mutter
Beneath cities crafted from redwood slabs
Torn from the forest’s living heart
That thirst for clear, cool water
Untainted by the carbon prints
Of a million dolls in fashionable garb.

What is this thing that powers clocks
And wells and pornography films?
Willie and the boys can sing on
And on and on about the delta oilslick
From a crack in the earth that
Leaked the gas that blew the well that
Belled the cat that ran the train that
Moved the wheat that lay in the house
That Jack built.

It is a shame we did not learn
More from the last time. The dinosaurs
And mastodons lie in their frozen beds
With buttercups in their huge bellies,
Their world quite dark for the lack
Of a horse – or a windmill to grind –
While Don Quixote tilts at the wind
Where the children’s tumors grow.

Why all the fuss for power? We are
All correct, and what may be perceived
As differences are blessings and
Doors to vistas painted in purple and gold –
So then, what is power but the
Potential to destroy everything in sight?

I think the disaster we saw last night
At seven must be the dinosaur’s revenge.

PS: The photo was by my beloved friend, Claudia Conlon

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