Friday, October 21, 2011

Troubled Water by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

If you saw yesterday's post, then you know there's been a call for sweaters to be knit for penguins following an oil spill off the coast of New Zealand. The sweaters keep the birds warm and also prevent them from preening (and thereby ingesting globs of oil) while they wait their turns to be cleaned up.

Here in the U.S., last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wreaked havoc on the environment, and still requires cleanup efforts. I was fortunate to have my poem, "Troubled Water", included in the anthology Breaking Waves: An Anthology for Gulf Coast Relief. In fact, it held pride of place as the final selection in the book - closing out an anthology that opened with a poem by Ursula Le Guin. I've been pleased to see the poem favorably mentioned in several reviews of the anthology, including this one by Helen Gallagher.

In light of the recent spill off New Zealand, I thought I'd share the poem here today. And in case you're wondering, the answer is "yes, you can still purchase a copy of the Breaking Waves e-book, which is available from Amazon in Kindle format, from Barnes & Noble for the Nook, and from the publisher, Book View Cafe for a mere $4.99 US. All proceeds go to Gulf Coast relief.

Troubled Water

by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

"The first of the slick to reach the shores will not be the last."
Janet Ritz, The Environmentalist, 4/30/10

Long before St. Aidan's time,
ancient sailors cast their oil
on roiling seas to stay the waves.
No miracle, but science:
primitive, powerful as magic.

A modicum of oil could quell
a cresting swell, a thinning drop
enough to influence a distance
farther than the fingers
of its prismatic sheen.

Not more than a teaspoonful
calmed half-acre Clapham waves
for Benjamin Franklin, noted inventor,
Renaissance man. Reconnaissance now
cannot quantify the effect.

Two billion plus teaspoons of oil
gush daily into Gulf water,
quelling wildlife, not waves;
stopping sea life, not storms;
troubling water, industry, conscience.

Worried water – a geyser spews.
Gobbets of gull-coating crude expands in the sea.
Disturbed water – methane chokes oxygen.
Desperate dead zones nothing can survive.
Troubled water – upsetting the balance.

Economy and populace washed-out as wetlands,
unsteady as shifting beach sand.
St. Aidan's cruet will not quiet this squall;
St. Jude, he of desperate causes, waits offstage,
wringing his hands.



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