Vox Populi

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Philip Terman: The Frackin’ Poem

Scarlet tanagers, thrushes, warblers, hawks,

spotted salamanders, skunk and possum,

all the invisible insects—


the native shrubs, the wild flowers,

all the trees cut down, the altered

light patterns, the shifting forest canopy,


all giving way for the gravel roads,

the trucks and tankers and dust,

hauling their chemical cocktails:


the methanol, the isopropyl alcohol,

the ethylene glycon, the crystalline silica,

and all the other toxins, according


to the Halliburton loophole, the industry

refuses to disclose, the toxins that cause

blurry vision, severe stomach cramps,


burning noses, swollen tongues, headaches,

hair loss, ear pressure, horses that won’t leave the barn—

smell of sulphur, rotten egg, nail polish,


water burning out of faucets—

the heavy axles invading

across our farms, compacting the topsoil,


reducing plant growth, increasing

the runoff, the erosion like a fully-loaded

cement mixture hauling itself across a lawn


after a heavy rainfall, all the way

to our watersheds: the Ohio, the Susquehanna,

the Delaware, the Erie, the Genesee, the Potomac—


not to mention the 86, 000 miles of streams

and rivers, the 161, 445 acres of lakes,

the 403, 924 acres of wetlands—


the drilling through aquifers, the potential for leakage,

the uranium, the radioactive radon stored

in that black rock that is almost 400 million years old—


that shale that has survived from the Devonian age,

that stone of shelled swimmers, like squids,

of plant-like animals related to starfish called sea lilies,


that earth, that earth that once we contaminate,

we can never reclaim, that earth

that when we frack, we frack ourselves.

Copyright 2015 Philip Terman


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