teach me to take something ugly:
blood bone fat—
and make it beautiful.
I will take your children
and turn them into blood-streaked light.
—except now they will never be able
Waves wash upon the shore, their
Foam soft and cool, they leave
Behind their tender trails of
Sand in patterns rippling
Towards the sea.
from sea to shining sea—
the bodies of fish litter the beaches
like scattered shells. I make a home
in the carcass of a whale, the curvature of its ribs
a safer country than my own:…
the girl with sea foam fingers writes letters
on napkins left on beaches like loose change,
words stumbling down staircases of five-seven-five haikus
— i want an ocean,
the one mama whispers of,
Your mama laughed
When you came back crying
After your first swim
In the ocean
But your mama didn’t see
What you saw
Your mama did not hear
The cries of the ocean
When a whale cries, we mistake it for singing –
we refuse to acknowledge another’s suffering.
People only give a glance, a second
of their time, but spend hours looking in a mirror.
Empathize more, and…
You tell me about the ocean
and I will tell you
how the body longs to be
how we stand
on the backs of our mothers
and curve bows to curve
oh my lovely cerulean girl
when you go to sleep at night
do you still rock back and forth,
like how you would if you stood ankle-deep in the sea?
i wonder if…
waves ebb and flow,
oscillating in absent patterns,
blaring the sounds of silent alarms.
factory fumes tease the waters
like a barista concocts latte art,
the product — a burdened atmosphere,
NEPTUNE’S DAUGHTER: A PREFACE
o child of the sea, if you could wring out your hair
you’d get perfect neptunian waters, blue like the waves
that tumble out from the crevices of your skin
Flurry of color,
flurry of fish.
Stirring, sweet song,
sweet ballad of the whale.
Jovial, delighted chirp,
delighted trill of the dolphin.
All is at peace.
All is as it should be.
A Poem in Three Parts
1. Plastic Jellyfish
I swim in the cool water
Twist through the waves
Small fish jump along
My hard patterned shell
Blooms of jellyfish
Drift within turgid waves
They float in circles, in figure eights,
On blackened surfaces of oil-streaked seas,
Or algae-infested lakes.
Shorebirds gasp for air,
Frogs choke on labored croaks,
Once so colorful and vibrant,
Soon to be eternally…
Once, Whalers hunted you,
Tell me, tell me,
how you used to dwell
in the crystal clear tides
that you called home
Tell me, tell me,
how it all changed
from rainbow reefs and coves of…
Tell me about that one in Indonesia
which washed up with the gnat in its eye, a drop
of tar, a little spittle, & a congealed
fleshy carcass, to which both foreign & native eyes
When I was little I went to my school’s carnival
Full of ring tosses
I had this hope of turning my paper tickets into something beautiful
Which if you think about it…
Kamilo Beach, Hawaii.
I tiptoe along the coast
trying to find pieces of uncovered sand
not waterproofed by plastic trash,
little bits of microplastics sitting
with the silica grains like tiny confetti,
a celebration of…
there is no language like that of whales.
you know when you hear it;
it sounds like time— like millions of years
murmuring as they go by.
the song of ex-gods,
sonic loops in
The oceans are cresting over like weak knuckles
Against flesh. It’s April, and I am learning
That this is how the water begins to chaff and digest
Like a form of cartilage in the essence of what…
A blanket of white noise washes over,
and around me.
to the waves that I call home.
But different, somehow.
like a fly crawling into the wound,
of a dead animal.
gull flocks wade in an unseemly wasteland–
an impending graveyard, where
bones only unearth themselves
at breaking dawn: when we, so lowly,
release. viscous like spilt blood, creeps
the petroleum. fatty as marrow, pulp and
Her skin is translucent,
A blue-green glow,
With pink and peach bones
Of coral which shine beneath.
Hair of stringy seaweed
glide down her back.
Some say she is beautiful.
I say she…
First, the ocean sang how she laughed –
A giggling melody expansive across the shores
So broad yet precise in every wave and
Pushing against the rhythm and the tension to break free
One degree Celsius.
A mild breeze sweeps over the water,
Like a warm summer’s day,
Doesn’t seem so bad.
Maybe the ocean is a little bit higher,
A little less sand on the…
I gave you tons of seafood
And what did you give me?
A plastic bag, a stray balloon
And lots of organochlorines.
I gave you a carbon sink
And what did you give me?
There is a floating whisper
Coming from a mother whose arms
Encourage in the low tide
And revive in the high
Whose nurture still lingers
Under our skin, our bones
To ancestors gone back…
Welcome to the freakshow
Where we paint our walls with madness
the colour of black spilling into blue
Insanity drifting towards the translucent glass
that fogs with each rainfall
Where our lion tamer wears oil gloves
Here the waves are crested
only with the gloss of a deadly dark ink,
never by whitewater, softened seafoam —
the shrill and raucous cries of seagulls
have choked in their throats,
The landfill for life
where absent souls dump their desolate and destroyed
into the abyss, swirling in a black, glistening whirlpool.
Imagine the coral
Stationary in the blue seas. Never moving,
i. The monster
Sucking the oxygen
Draining the life out of
An ocean in a headlock
But fighting is
The plastic tightens its grip
Getting ready to deliver
I married her
for love, the fisherman said.
I watched as they exchanged their silver gifts
and faulted whispers that meant they loved each other.
His words still litter my mind.
When I was 5,…
I still remember the times when I was young.
On the red sand. On sea and land, humans killed, leaving
of corpses. Now, they scrounge a living in a world of their
The sea whispers with the ebb and flow
Of soft waves that sway beneath moonlight.
As silence pervades the distant night,
Stars lightly afire in the dazed reflections of
Ripples in the water,
The ocean dreams
As it crashes onto sandy beaches
Or erodes away cliff faces
Or smashes into icebergs,
Of a world
Where it has not stranded its own creatures
Upon the filthy shores
A wonderful color, this white can be.
The washing of waves, the whispering death,
A graveyard found amidst an arcane sea.
Untimely, a creature breathes its last breath.
Fish waltzing, dancing, and waiting around—
Our planet was balanced
Mother Earth wore a smile
But since we’ve been here
We’ve made Earth more vile
Wherever we walk
We leave hungry, licking flames
We’re destroying everything
Our world will never be the…
How did you forget your first provider?
Like a mother, it raised you until you could walk
On your own two feet to stray from her care
But always come back if ever you were there
Close your eyes.
You are humanity.
Ashamed of yourself,
Ashamed of your actions,
Ashamed of the world
That is melting around you
Because of you.
You closed your eyes
While the world is…
It doesn’t take much heat or carelessness
for the oceans to lilt towards another horizon, falter
and flood and fall apart. Another fraction of a degree
and there will come tempestuous storms to tear skies apart,
Valuing luxury over life
Polluting waters that were once blue
Thousands upon thousands of habitats lost
Thousands without a clue
They give us false promises
Preach but do not change
In this world, harmony and chaos rule nature
Like two dissonant chords on a piano struck
But just as in a piano, when used the right way, these chords are deep, dark, and rich
When I was about this tall,
I saw a young man at the beach,
His hair was just like the color of sand
That when he laid back against it,
Questioning the sky,
In love in the morning I stand at your bedroom shore.
The blue comforter, lightly stained,
Spills with each breath
Over the precipice of your mattress.
Head sunken deep into a pillow
Like rocks at…
The butt of a cigarette sits in the sand,
sifts with the tide as it pans for gold,
sizzles like the last burning star in the sky.
The shoreline pleads redemption, yet still thirsts
I make bacon for breakfast.
Grease conspires in the corners of the pan, then bubbles and congeals.
It whispers secrets in between rivulets of melting fat.
I lick sticky fingers and poor the frothing oil down the…
I used to watch the minnows grow up in the nursery of my lawn
Eggs turned tadpoles turned frogs turned mothers
An ecosystem everyone else learned from textbooks, but I did not
I saw every stage creep…
Miles down there is no light
Beyond shipwrecks, beyond the kraken’s den,
Beyond greened bones, and bright coral
Below it all
Beyond the faintest ripples of storms above
Below is the still darkness
Some polystyrene beads here
Some fishing nets there
No, that’s not quite right
Maybe add color to the ocean floor
This blue plastiglomerate looks nice
No, it still needs more
These hydrophobic substances will do
Beyond the rhythmic clapping of waves on the scalding, summer sands,
a complex composition reverberates
so far out of reach.
Weaving of a mosaic web,
through echolocation whales sing.
The ones who look the quietest,
I thought, I am king of the watery world
Where the merpeople live without sin
And the alga grow tall, like the Redwood trees
And they forgo their feet for a fin
Not too long ago, when…
She moves with the wind, the rain, and the moon.
She shifts and she shudders with rhythm and tune.
Her beauty is captivating, enchanting, imbibing.
Few have ever known the secrets she’s hiding.
As ominous as an…
We all have that one relative
Maybe down the street
Or in another state
Or we may share the planet with them
But we all have them
The one who takes
“make yourself at…
A generation that claims
Global warming is a Chinese hoax,
An economic strategy
Created for the elimination of competitive manufacturing,
Rising ocean acidification is “just more piffle,”
That the scare is baseless because
It makes its way into the ocean.
Following the current,
waiting to degrade.
Only to be broken down
into smaller fragments.
Many pieces enter a fish.
Some are snatched into
a seagull’s hungry beak.
Plastic bobbs along from dawn to dusk,
Never stops floating,
Humans help me along.
Killing marine life,
Humans help me along,
Tell me, why are you so blue?
What did the cruel men do to you?
Selfishly stealing your children, every last one,
Ensnaring them in nets until there are none.
Suffocating them with awful, dark oil,
I walk to the kitchen.
I lie down on my bed.
I sit back and relax.
17 animals dead.
17 lives taken.
A canvas, breathtaking
Swirls of colors dance
Lighting up the page
Subtle yet bold
Drawing me in
A light to a moth
How could a human
Life has many lenses.
The effects of time’s riptide
Aren’t just found in the ring of trees.
The health of the planet, of the ocean, of that salty life-water—
Bend down. Look at the seashells.
Beautiful, creature, but it lives no more
Forever sleep on the ocean floor
Boiling waters, bleached out coral
Nothing and no one
Could they have stopped it?
So much heat…
Tears from blue eyes
Have you heard their cries?
If you haven’t then this will be a salty surprise.
It started when we began to modernize,
the world began to industrialize,
we got off our feet and…
I see them, shuffling along
Heads bowed, backs hunched;
Men, women, children
Their only belongs in the bags they carry;
Their homes are flooded;
Their backyards have been reclaimed;
Their towns are underwater;
I remember you
A hand dripping black reaching down
to suffocate my children
a poison increasing
leaving toxic rainbows shining on my skin
spreading like a deadly sin
The water at high tide
Sways on the shore with every breath
And like the intricate mind
Not a soul knows its depth
Yet with each breath it suffocates
Pollution crowds each lung
Calm as ever, the river flows. It gains
speed, it decelerates. A sprinkling
brook, a fish lies in the splashing
water. It glows. It gains
As it jumps, the…
the fisherman’s net is empty today.
but he does not worry,
not yet, for in his wrinkle-lined face his eyes
hold an understanding with the ocean:
that she is often tempestuous,
will often withhold her…
his palms cradle the black coal and
thin layers flake away
he tosses them in the air
burns them with his fists
the warmth is ruffling his curls
and he smiles into the light
electricity gurgles to life
Hija, the Dagat lives around you—
coaxing oxygen in through your nostrils
to press life into your soul
and those that live around you.
Its waves sway to drown
disease and waste
that target you—
In the fractal gaze of the Arctic thaw
Another ice shelf crumbles
The remains of a glacier’s shattered limbs
Collapsing down a slippery slope
Purity dissipating like a fleeting memory
As white reluctantly yields to…
the explosion of carmine, salmon, and chartreuse
lost with the pass of time
from weaving green to jarring white
royal amethyst to bone,
the systematic plague of blistering heat
scorch the dancing…
Water fills the gaps
in the earth’s crust,
over each unfilled
crevice of land.
The sea was always meant
the russet soil
that had settled above it,
the tiny creatures die
their throats close
one by one they fall
algae leave our beautiful marine rainbows
making an everlasting underwater winter
the cycle grows and we fall deeper into our doom
It has been ten years since.
The adventure has ended.
I am ready to recollect
a long and difficult journey home.
It had begun smoothly enough.
But little did we know,
we would soon encounter
I am water,
A liquid with tremendous power
I am responsible for life
And yes, it is a large burden I carry
But I carry more many more things
I carry pain
And we wondered why no one ever hears,
the melodious chorus of ocean waves,
The baritone notes of a humpback whale,
the soprano voiced bottlenose dolphin,
and they wondered why we never did sing,
There is nothing we can do
So please don’t tell me
We can fix the problem of ocean pollution
And I hope you agree that
We have no power
And It’s not true that
My daughter ran to me, crying that she was sick,
Pleading for me to fix it quick.
My baby was sweating, melting away.
My baby clutched her stomach, filled with junk, completely trashed.
My baby fell…
Oceans full of
Nets of plastic
At the eradication of
Pristine waters with
Dolphins wading in
A sea of silky oil and toxic sludge only
My first love had blue eyes that could swallow the entire galaxy
with just one bite. She knew how to allay my sorrows and uplift my
meandering hope. I lionized her vastness that contained my world.
On the beach on any given summer Saturday
Mama packs Capri Sun and peanut butter sandwiches
Slathers her kids bellies with tacky white sunscreen
Too cold and they complain
Safe and protected
Oxybenzone blocks the rays…
The waves, they ebb and flow,
Under the white-bright moonlight glow.
The sky, so pure, unmarred,
Glowing with a spread of stars.
How small we are.
The girl, she stands alone,
Soaked down from…
Behind the glass ceiling of skies, holding the freckles of molecules,
Across vast stretches of the descending heaven of the starless abode,
The paper boat is square, and restless in the motionless abyss of bourn,
A thousand moons…
from the day my mother and father
first let me fling and fumble
into the water —
toes testing and tongue
later learning everything
all at once —
i have only ever known one…
Let’s make a wave.
Let’s not fall victim to drowning ourselves
In suffocating slivers of synthetic,
Drift towards the neon light
Of a flashing reusable sign
Embedded on a cloth tote
And see that miracles…