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

 

 

Among the Trees

Mary Oliver died last week. Some of her poems are among my favorites, and I wanted to share one I love for obvious reasons.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
– Mary Oliver –

Someday I need to write more extensively about my love of poetry, one of my heart’s joys and in the same category of other sacred pleasures: being immersed in a powerful piece of music; cooking and sharing a delicious meal; savoring a beautiful glass of wine, complex cocktail, or a rich cup of coffee; dancing within an all-encompassing drumbeat; being still and present in an instance of sublime natural beauty; holding heart-to-heart one of my family; and there are others—each one of them a moment of being present and in awe.

Poetry comes close to evoking those moments, of giving language to that which is otherwise ethereal, emotional, sensual, and transcendent.

Words are limited, certainly, but poetry allows them to be…more.

It’s like the TARDIS—a poem is so much bigger on the inside.

Life in a Razor-Shaped City by Scott Woods for TEDx Columbus

I want to share a TEDx talk by my friend Scott Woods, a poet, writer, librarian, activist, and organizer whom I am honored to know.
 
Scott’s words provoke–they are thoughtful and powerful, complicated and honest. I learn something every time I encounter them…on the page, on the stage, or when I am lucky enough to see him in person.
 
Scott is both a brilliant creator and a creative catalyst–he makes remarkable things happen. Follow this link to hear why Columbus Alive chose him to be their first ever 2018 Face of Columbus. He’s that good, and his work is that important.