Deepwater Horizon

Description from NASA (source): "NASA's Terra Satellites Sees Spill on May 24 Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010. The Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image the same day.

Ten years ago today, the semi-submersible offshore drilling rig the Deepwater Horizon sank, following an explosion that left the oil well gushing and caused the largest marine oil spill in history. 

This poem was inspired by that tragedy. It first appeared in Mythic Delirium in 2014:

Deepwater

April 22, 2010

Oil gushes like a wound, carrying with it the death of more creatures
than my Gulf has accepted for millennia, but this is massacre not sacrifice
offered up to unnamed gods of chaos who live in primordial seas.

As the oil consumes scales, wings, skins, and blood, it sinks like a horrible prayer.
I rise to the surface and step with feet the color of moss onto beaches covered with corpses.
Where my tears fall, spring up the tiniest flowers made from the bones of murdered fish.
When the winds blow through their delicate petals, they chime with the sound of tiny hurricanes.

I cradle dead dolphins and scream. Beneath black waters, white threads of light swirl
as they ascend, growing brighter until they explode into pure fury
formed into a flying beast of teeth, shell shards, and coral. The old god lands beside me.
Our footsteps thunder like war drums as we hunt to drain the waters of those responsible
and seal their shriveled souls into shells cast down to the bottom for fodder.

I have slept with monsters older than ice; those who swim through rock and fire,
creatures of mouth and ash. They will welcome my offering
and maybe get a taste for the world above. Perhaps they will rise to swallow cities
before returning to their volcanic dreams.

* * *

Related, my friend Eric Cox of the band The Belle Weather wrote the song “Dive” in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They just released a new video and new recording of “Dive” for the 10th anniversary of the tragic event. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. <3

“I woke up the following morning and watched the underwater camera detail the billowing plume of oil gushing from the well. I also came across a photograph of an incredible Louisiana Brown Pelican standing tall in the surf, drenched in oil. She peered back into the lens of the camera as if to say, “You have to do better than this for us.” I wrote ‘Dive’ as a love song from that pelican to an ocean who is no longer the lover she used to be.”

-Eric Cox// The Belle Weather

 

 

Art in the Time of Quarantine

Time. Time is one of the threads that everyone seems to touch on these days in their tweets and posts. We have long been guided by schedules of work and school and other constructs, and then this virus hit and everything changed, slowed down, stopped, went out of sync. 

Each of us is going through this surreal shared moment in time, viewing the world through our own lenses, with our unique combinations of challenges and privileges, maybe sharing that view with the people we are living with or talking to. My experience is enmeshed with that of the kids. Most of the day we’re all doing our “work,” but then we have a lot of dinner-table conversations, and I cherish those, a chance to check in with one another after the day of work and school work—a time to ask about “How Things Are Going.” 

Some days the answer is: not great, frustrated, scared, lonely, restless, angry. Some days the answer is better, ok, not bad, better. So much depends on who we have (or have not)  interacted with, and how we have related with them during that day. So much depends on what we’ve heard of the news. So much depends on how the kids are doing.

When trauma typically happens at schools (and the current generation of elementary and high school students have had too much experience with this), we call in counselors. We have talking circles and support groups. We make allowances for ordinary responsibilities to allow some room for processing and healing. We try to help the kids because most of them don’t have the tools they need. Right now, those systems are not really in place to help them—even with teachers and parents trying the best they can. 

The kids have been doing the best they can, and I’m of the philosophy that we need to temper our expectations right now. If many of us, the adults, are not ok, how can we expect the kids to be? 

So they do their homework and they miss their friends; they try to connect online and on the phone, watch movies and read, and have their own creative ways of dealing with it all. 

My son, Liam, is a musician and composer, and he decided when the shelter-in-place started that he would write a new song approximately every other day. 

I’m reminded of a quote from Neil Gaiman’s keynote address for the May 17, 2012 commencement ceremony at The University of the Arts. He said: 

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

“Make good art.”

This is something I often quote to my kids. Creativity is a tool we have when we need it, when we can use it. It’s not always possible. Sometimes we have to wait for life to give us a window. Sometimes we have to make that window. Sometimes we make good art.

Liam has made some good art. His EP was released today and is available on Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes, and Amazon music. I’m really proud of him. His piano compositions are like soundtracks to our life right nowthey are complex and sad with surprising moments of joy. I’ve been working while listening to them in the background, and I’m excited to share them with you right now. 

His professional name is Hyrix, and the EP is titled Insomnia. I think you’ll be moved by its beauty.  

You can listen to the EP on Spotify:

Or on Soundcloud:

Everyone is wondering when things will go back to “normal.” Will they ever?

I don’t think we can know what normal is going to look like. I do believe that this time will irrevocably transform our children and what they do to shape their future in ways that we cannot even imagine. I feel like Liam’s music and the other things people are doing right now to express themselves, to connect creatively with one another, to be as present for one another as possible—these will be the touchstones we have to remind us of this time and why we reshaped the future accordingly, hopefully for the the better.