1st PLACE WINNER
GRANDMOTHER EARTH XVII
Environmental Poetry Contest
This poem was published in Grandmother Earth XVII, 2011, as the winning poem in the Environmental Poetry Division of the GME National Contest.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is only a few hours from my home. The BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill will continue to affect the inhabitants of this area and the creatures of the ocean for years to come. It is even more upsetting that our state is still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (See Gulfport, MS Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey’s Mississippi Meditation: A Poet Looks ‘Beyond Katrina’ on NPR.) Residents say there has been progress, but, with many trees, homes and other buildings destroyed, it will never look the same. And now they have to contend with this BP disaster. Poets for Living Waters is a call for poets to respond to the oil “spill.” I contributed with a poem titled Drilling Disaster. It’s posted on Poets for Living Waters, Open Mic section. The poem was inspired by Sandra Howard’s heart-wrenching photos of the Gulf Coast beach and ocean after the oil spill disaster. Sandra is a facebook friend and active spokeswoman/reporter/protestor of the BP tragedy.
by Wynne Huddleston
The spill has created a slinky tiger—
water striped with black oil and orange
danger devouring life in its wake.
Still, children swim here while men
in hazmat suits pick up garbage
along the beach. A pelican slides
onto shore, covered in black, struggles
to stand; then waddles blindly
and drunkenly, full of thick fuel dripping
beneath him. A stingray, pink
from chemical burns, lies
lifeless on the beach. Jelly fish
with bellies full of oil stretch out
across the water like a strange necklace.
A charcoal self-portrait of the hungry
monster smiles from the sand, teeth bared,
alongside its kill—a hundred dead
Kemps ridley, hawksbill, leatherback,
and green turtles, already endangered
species. Will any survive? The Gulf wind
blows a tear-jerking stench as more slick
creatures wash up on the beach. Correcting
chemicals promise to bring us more
of these beach treasures; clawless crabs,
lesioned fish, grounded birds, and poisonous
air as aver 50,000 barrels of oil a day
per day smother and suffocate
marine life. From plankton to sperm whales,
from plate to pocketbook, nothing
can escape the smothering coat of oil
and genetically altering chemicals. Yes,
the ocean is the last frontier, Jacques
Cousteau, I fear would have much unknown
to explore for decades to come
in the depths of this ocean disaster.
Seeding False Hope
by Wynne Huddleston
You inject me with hope
as false as the seeding of clouds.
Chemicals are shot inside, their poison
spreads, pervades the atmosphere
until a man-made rain invades
the beautiful, clear, blue weather
in God’s previously balanced universe,
now teetering on the edge.
–first published in EarthSpeak Magazine Vol. 5
For more poems, please see the notes on Wynne Huddleston Poetry