2017, High School, Poetry
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 silent.
Yet while the brown-finned fish and water bugs weep,
The waking world is fast asleep.
The water is darker than the sky at night,
Stars dying, minnows crying,
Pseudo rainbow ripples,
And dwindling light,
Slickened terns and starving grouses,
Acrid pitfalls of sulfuric fumes,
The stillness of a hundred empty houses,
Or an endless line of vacant rooms.
The crescent beaks of flightless cormorants
Coated with smears of syrupy oil,
The looming shadow of a burning rig
Lacking feeling, without name,
Surpassing the horizon like a snakehead
With a forked tongue of crimson flame.
But on the smooth bank of a strait
Sits one last spark,
And near the frothy, seafoamed shoreline,
One final hope,
Like the golden song of a lark,
during its last lingering note:
Past the gray coils of smokestacks,
And remnants of consumption.
Clear the smog-filled, heavy air,
Return the seas to green and blue.
Our current path is dark indeed,
But the future depends on you.
This poem emphasizes the impact of human activity on our oceans, lakes, air, and planet as a whole. I wanted to make the images contained within it as a vivid as possible because I think the true gravity of pollution and environmental degradation is most evident when one can visualize the way oil spills look. It magnifies the idea that humans are ignoring the effects of our activity on the environment. This was partially inspired by the U.S. government’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and its intent to expand offshore drilling. I feel that ocean awareness is particularly important now in the context of the change in government administration. New officials are planning to alter environmental policy extensively. In a world where animals, plants, and the vast majority of life on earth remains voiceless, it is important for the leaders of the future to advocate on their behalf. The second half of the poem appeals to the members of our generation, as it is paramount that we implement new tactics to protect our planet. Otherwise, resources will be depleted, and our water will become so polluted that the overall health of all species will decline. But while my poem makes rational sense, it also explores an underlying sadness; it mourns the destruction of the beauty of nature, the death and suffering of fish, birds, and insects; yet it is also hopeful. It is a perfect representation of my views on pollution and climate change.