Oceans and Us
2018, High School, Poetry
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 mankind’s triumph —
Cigarettes and motor oil float together,
dangerous combination moving slowly,
about to set fire to the ocean
while we give a light, intolerable heat,
to the mouths of the rivers.
Castello Aragonese, Ischia.
I see the future from here.
The hot acrid acid burns multi-colored corals,
leaving behind white, hollow bones.
Starfish without arms
snails without shells,
sea urchins without spikes
live out their disabled life due to our acid attacks.
We rain down carbon dioxide from the skies
just like those vents bubble up from below.
A fisherman cuts open the measly hilsa ,
slicing its fins, head, and tail,
as his bloodline did for generations
and gives it instead to you, an appetizer
to your mussels and sushi.
His family looks hungrily at their fish,
the ones in your stomach,
while they chew on paper bills.
An oceanic desert.
No… air… to breathe…
Sometimes we see the smooth surface
of the sea and it looks calm, lifeless
when there is life teeming.
Sometimes when we farm to create more life,
the algae blooms above,
green spreads like disease.
Everyone’s suffocating, dying,
I point to the horizon,
where the ferocious waves begin to crest.
My home used to rest on the coast there.
Day by day,
the ocean had stepped
until one day I stood
in the middle of the water and my home,
like a polar bear clinging to a lone island.
Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma.
“Climate change isn’t real,” he said.
“A con job, a myth.”
Then tell me how these storms ravaged
your lands, moving slower and
raining down harder
with the sweet taste of revenge.
Thousands dead. The worst storms to hit
United States soil in 100 years.
If you fight the Earth for its resources,
it will fight you back.
The ocean’s life and our life is one.
Fritz, Angela. “Harvey. Irma. Maria. Why Is This Hurricane Season so Bad?” The Washington Post , WP Company, 23 Sept. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/09/23/harvey-irma-mariawhy-is-this-hurricane-season-so-bad/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d2ea954184dc.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History . Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Liu, Welles, and Justis Nguyen. “Baltic Sea.” Dead Zones – Home , http://deadzonesjw.weebly.com/baltic-sea.html.
Mack, Eric. “Rising Sea Levels Are Officially Erasing Whole Islands And Villages From The Globe.” Forbes , Forbes Magazine, 10 May 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2016/05/10/rising-sea-levels-are-officially-erasing-wholeislands-and-villages-from-the-globe/#78886b4c68da.
Merica, Dan, and Brandon Miller. “Trump’s False Claims about the Polar Ice Caps.” CNN ,Cable News Network, 29 Jan. 2018, http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/29/politics/trump-false-claim-polar-ice-caps/index.html.
Parker, Laura. “We Made Plastic. We Depend on It. Now We’re Drowning in It.” National Geographic , 16 May 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/we-made-plastic-we-depend-on-it-now-were-drowning-in-it.aspx.
Rao, Arati Kumar. “Piracy, Pollution and Climate Change: Bangladeshi Fishermen on the Brink – in Pictures.” The Guardian , Guardian News and Media, 4 Apr. 2016, www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2016/apr/04/photos-piracy-pollution-climate-change-bangladesh-fishermen.
Waldman, Scott. “Sea Level Rise Is Speeding Up in Parts of the Southeastern U.S.” Scientific American , 10 Aug. 2017, www.scientificamerican.com/article/sea-level-rise-is-speeding-up-in-parts-of-the-southeastern-u-s/.
In this piece, I wanted to emphasize the international nature of the crises that are occurring, and the extent and variety of the disasters. I was first inspired by the fact that I have lived in India and the United States, places on the opposite sides of the globe, that are equally affected by climate change's impacts on the oceans. I thought it might helpful to illustrate affected, identifiable places all over the world instead of vast oceans for which few want to claim responsibility. Climate change is seemingly invisible, but I wanted to use vivid images and real-life examples to show the very concrete and palpable effects of the change that can be worse than plastic pollution. I further emphasized these effects by pointing to the harm we’re unleashing on ourselves, whether it’s due to overfishing, extreme weather, or rising sea levels. In a time where we as a human race should be making drastic changes to pull back climate change, there are leaders that refuse to even acknowledge this phenomenon. Moreover, I focused on the aspect of death in the past, present, and future to demonstrate climate change as a silent yet ferocious force that can kill the oceans, and thus us. I thought that pessimistic image was needed to spur any action, but in hindsight, this poem is optimistic. The world will face this harm unless radical action is taken. In fact, it has already begun to suffer the effects.