Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Toxic Waste

US nuclear waste stored uncapped underwater - Washington


Toxic Waste


I'm floating dirty bombed in a mermaid sea
flotsam'd with promises broken unspoken, ducking
the twin-eyed turrets swiveling sweetly
siamesed from the face of the Ace of Storms.
My brain beneath its sponge infection
recalls the first inflection of those liquid fingers
so lyric on shifting skins; impossible to know
they'd stiffen on the chain of gold, pull, snap the thin
links, all destroyed but the red line left cutting my throat;
yet I sing on in a song that cannot stop.

So many clouds on the cards,
bleeding so close, spitting their pretense
of earth-splitting power, then racked by
the trump of the sun, useless to shorten
my half-life or untie a single atom; even you  
the last worst hurricane of a terrible season,
only swamp with your dissipating ebb
leftovers of fission pooled on the reactor floor
in a lake of toxic effluent as
dangerous to use as it is to jettison.

Don't think you can dump it
in those pitiful hollow drums,
sink the poison weight forever beneath
the dark of that Mariana trench which is
your everliving night. It is not there where
no light comes, but in the air beside you,
the black water beneath you,
released by rust, glowing with death
come to finish what you started
when the soft sickness began.


June 2012




11.05SkullValley 019



Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub
I'm hosting tonight at the pub and hope you'll come join us. The doors opened at 3:00 PM EST and will stay wide, barring a thunderstorm, till Wednesday midnight. 


If you'd like to hear the poem read by the author, click below:




Footer image: 11.055SkullValley 019, by Rylan S L, on flick'r

51 comments:

  1. Ugh. Really scary. A bit too vivid for me! You manage to make the toxic gorgeous, without losing, you know, the toxic. I think the Marianas Trench may be the only safe place actually. k.

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    1. Sometimes things surface and you realize exactly what they were--and how they persisted because in the end, you may think you've buried them but... That's what I was going for, anyway. Thanks for reading, k.

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  2. Great poem and an excellent reading. It's normally not good for a poem to make someone want to take a shower, but in this case, it is! Good to hear your voice!

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  3. Powerful poem..needs to be read, be heard, be understood. The only answer to starting this waste is fusion, yet it is equally dangerous and clearly may never be available. We are the manufacturers of our own death. Sad commentary but brilliantly written. You've been on my mind lately. I still consider you one of the most brilliant poets of our time. I'm mentally weaving garlands to be laid at your door.
    Also loved hearing your voice.

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  4. I like listening to you read this excellent write! very nice!

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  5. So powerful and brilliantly written...so awful that it lays there forever...why do we do these things to ourselves? Nuclear waste is there forever....lying toxic & polluting future generations. So wonderful to hear your voice...great reading :)

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  6. dang hedge...that opening stanza is intense ans vivid...love the war imagery...the brutality...the opening line is a gripper...the mix of the mermaid so beautiful and...still you sing...and that says much...

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  7. Love your voice reading this--- A waste and toxic... dense and intense, indeed, Hedge. You are a just great artist-observer...

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  8. Some things do seem to last forever, or at least as long as we do...it would be nice if they were only the nice things. Doesn't seem to happen that way often enough. I'm reading this as a memoir...not technological, but as a kind of mirror of mind, memory, feelings and all the things that keep us looking elsewhere, regretfully. I think this is excellent, bold metaphor. Very fine work.

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  9. Such a powerful write and it was wonderful to hear it read. I do not know if you meant this at all, but we can carry and attempt to bury so much toxic waste in our relationships--but it usually doesn't stay buried very well--it leaks out and contaminates those around us---anyway, my two cents

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  10. I love hearing you read, Hedge. The sibilants are beautiful in that first stanza, like waves shishing along trying to worry out what is buried there, or maybe trying to keep them asleep. Either way, it is rich to explore the metaphor of buried toxic waste, see in a new way the fear that what is here doesn't go away, and must be dealt with.

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  11. This stripped my senses! Absolutely outstanding piece, raw! Words here are not for the weak! Awesome! :) xoxo

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  12. Great write! Very vivid, evocative images and the contaminating potential of toxic waste inefficiently dealt with well captured...I once tried to write something on these lines but lacked the vocabulary to do it.

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  13. WOW!! ~ a superb poem ~ powerful & lyrical & oh do important for us all to hear!! Your photo of the storm grate is absolutely genius ~ the reference to 'rust ~ something in the air' that is toxic ~ terrifying what we allow in the name of progress!!

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  14. Powerful piece! The metaphore is astounding in its parallel. Great write!

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  15. There's clearly been a tsunami here, that has compromised the heart of the place where power and energy are generated, taking an ostensibly good thing and rendering it destructive, foul, and contaminated. Fools may pipe up about containment and safe levels, but that glowing reaper in the gondola just says otherwise.Once the genie is out of the bottle, what to do with the bottle? May as well chew on the broken glass and spit out poems.

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  16. Excellent poem - urrgh - so powerful

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  17. Okay...I think I'm going to enjoy some Muddy Waters now and pretend that their is not an ounce of truth to this write (oh yeah...I'm talking radio-active rose colored glasses!) When the soft sickness began...goosebumps of the worst kind...as we line up to bow to the walking dead...not realizing we have been so named and it is our own finger on the trigger

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  18. That opening stanza flowed so well that I couldn't wait to read the rest. You did not disappoint.

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  19. Oh, ugh, yeah. These things are not going to stay buried. Excellent words, well written and spoken.

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  20. wow, the music in this is just phenomenal, tripping right off the tongue...

    that first stanza just blew me away, this is a new favorite for me!!

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  21. so... the title got me straight off the bat and you just know i love the BOMB and all its fallout... its like doing mushroom clouds :D ... then the reading to detonate the resonate in chills... great ending hedge - totally crept me out and up on the blast wave;

    glowing with death
    come to finish what you started
    when the soft sickness began.

    HELL YEAH!

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  22. Profoundly moving, at once political and personal. You always take my breath.

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  23. Powerful write Hedge, from the first to the last stanza. This chilled me about the state of our world and what we have done ~

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  24. That first line, hedgewitch, totally set the tone. The poor poor earth...what the heck are we doing to her???

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  25. I know this is about a personal experience so deadly in its emotional toll that it irradiates emotions long after it's demise. As such, it's a description so visceral that it recalls so vividly how it threatens your well-being. Life seems to bring us things this to remind us how injustice devastates so utterly the balance life forces. Your poem really brings that aspect out so powerfully. I know this is not what your poem is about, but when I reAd it I thought of the chants that arose among the antiCommunist protesters which talked about the despotic regimes line they were romantic relationships that had gone south and become toxic. As it is, I think this poem is a powerful reminder of how personal relAtionships can become and stay unhealthy for so long.

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    1. Thanks, Charles, for getting it, and for articulating it so well.

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  26. The audio is wonderful - as is the poem

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  27. It is not there where/ no light comes, but in the air beside you/ the black water beneath you.
    this hits home with radiance. a stunning, grueling piece. it was a pleasure hearing you read it. ~jane

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  28. Amazing piece Hedge. The metaphor is fine tuned, tight and at times screams at you and at other times clings to the backdrop. This piece is probably one of the best I've read using a heavy subtext there, enough to let the reader know there is definitely something there, something important, something powerful, yet not enough to lead the reader to truly finding it out. Fantastic work.

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  29. An intense write,Joy! Good to bring it to the fore! Nuclear waste is not to be taken lightly. It's buried for future generations to worry about which is bad! Great multi-media rendition!

    Hank

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  30. So dark. So wonderfully executed. I love this poem. ♥

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  31. What a treat to hear you read this complex poem.

    I stand in awe of your poetry: it is topical and far reaching...this issue of toxic waste is something that lurks beneath the surface of many of our lives, and impacts either sooner or later.

    Years ago, a battery company up the hill from us buried battery acid in barrels, and other unknown stuff right behind our property. I remember this tractor rolling the barrels into the soil, as I stood there watching. They of course, wouldn't tell me what they were burying.

    Of course those barrels rusted open, and spilled, leached all that toxic waste into the soil. It polluted the soil down to 6 inches according to the EPA, but of course it was far deeper. The former peach trees died, everything died out there, except the kudzu. When the property was sold (the battery company left this mess and went to Canada...) they stripmined it..taking out 9 acres of trees (just three years ago) but it would have been necessary to take out at least a foot of soil in those entire 9 acres to build apartments.

    So they abandoned this toxic land and our longterm neighbors, who had worked at that Battery company for 30 years died off: cancer of the eye, (very unusual) pancreatic cancers, etc.

    EPA did come in an offer to take out 3 inches of soil of all resident properties that butted up to this 9 acres, but it was nothing to really deal with the toxic soil. It will be there forever and we will reap the results.

    This poem goes deep into my heart and personal experience. The complexity of words reveal themselves with a slower and closer reading and there is a punch and power that is substained thoughout. Your voice is seductive in the reading, but the message is a clarion call to arms.

    We must stop this rape of our Earth.

    Lady Nyo

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  32. A dark journey into the depths...all too real.

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  33. A horrifying reality, sadly, and an important topic. Wonderful writing, kiddo!

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  34. dark but wonderful in its rhythm and alliteration - if only people would pay attention to poems like this one.

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  35. Glowing with death.... I liked this because it expressed what could be considered a political subject in a very poetic way- I'm not sure if I'm making sense but some political poems can come across rather bluntly, clumsy in their passion to get a message across- whereas this- this is just flowing and cascading but razor shap like that red line of a cut throat....as always...excellent

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  36. Really love the internal rhyming and alliteration... it adds to the seriousness of your message. So vivid, effective.

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  37. dirty bombed in a mermaid sea... amongst my favourite lines I have to say! An ugly subject painted vividly and with striking poignancy.

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  38. I've been back here three times already. I'm still speechless in the vicinity of this remarkable poem.

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  39. I think the last stanza is the best. Good images and some nice internal rhyme.

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  40. Reading this again - it feels much more personal to me these later go-rounds - more specific and inter-personal than societal--though you can't use that language without society and mushroom clouds looming.

    And now, I'm gonig to be very irritating. I really do think some punctuation might be helpful here - perhaps I am such a literal dense reader, but it is such a tightly-packed poem and you do use enjambment sometimes and not at others, that for me, I think adding a little more consistant punctuation just to make it clearer would make it even more powerful.
    I don't know - I am perhaps singularly unmodern, but I know you are very specific in what you are saying and you may like the rushed-together quality of little punctuation - but I think there are a lot of readers that just glide over, and don't worry about specifically following, and punctuation does help in terms of getting the word to word, line to line meanings across. For example, one grammatical change I would consider - and again this is just my school marmish self perhaps - is a hyphen in the middle of earth-splitting. I Here I keep seeing the splitting as a verb somehow as if earth were splitting power rather than a description of the power.

    Maybe this is just me. And maybe you intend the ambiguities. Similarly there are places where you have commas and others where you leave the breaks a bit open, and for me, the commas really help.

    Again, I am not as intuitive reader perhaps as some; so you probably shouldn't pay much attention to what I say. k.

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    1. Sorry - as I am a bit incoherent, being torn between different activities here, and not very clear about this stuff anyway. k.

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    2. Well, k--first-I know you've read this with great attention and are trying very hard to make helpful suggestions, and I appreciate that, esp the investment of your time. There's no doubt this poem completely confused a lot of readers, who missed the metaphor entirely. OTOH, I did write it on purpose so that it could be taken either way, personal or poltical, so that's no big deal. I would prefer that the reader come away with both layers, but as you say, there's a lot of words there. ;_)

      I do understand what you're driving at, that densely packed, unpunctuated phrases can be overpowering and make people miss an important emphasis or even an entire point in the progression. If a hyphen will make certain words merge as intended, then I should probably include it--I just dislike them and think they're fussy. But a little fuss and structure can be helpful to those who can't read my mind. I'll go up and edit it a bit for you and you can see if it helps.

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    3. Okay, I added three commas and hyphenated earth-splitting. Hope that reads smoother for you. Thanks, Karin, for your feedback and interest, especially as I know how busy you are.

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  41. Don't do something you don't like! I am very plebian. k.

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  42. This is a case of the voice of the author bringing home the piece.. the quiet despair in your voice really delivers the messages leafed throughout.. both personal and communal. It's bleak.. and it should be.

    That isn't to say i didn't enjoy the beautiful subtlety of language and music.. always a rich seam in your work.

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  43. hi, i read this about a week ago, but haven't been online since then.

    ah, i really like this, like a lot of your other poems, very thick and tight. i had a friend who was recently treated for breast cancer, radiation and chemo-therapy, she said she felt like a toxic dump (and, i hate to say it, but she looked like she felt like a toxic dump). i can't imagine what that is like, but i'm guess a lot like what you just wrote here.

    "recalls the first inflection of those liquid fingers
    so lyric on shifting skins; impossible to know
    they'd stiffen on the chain of gold, pull, snap the thin
    links, all destroyed but the red line left cutting my throat;
    yet I sing on in a song that cannot stop."

    that is suck a striking statement/image... that will stay with me for a while.

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  44. "even you
    the last worst hurricane of a terrible season"

    Yeah, I think I dated him, too.

    Seriously, this is outstanding, and I really wish that I had written it.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg