Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sandy Solomon — Little Letter to the Future: Die Off

 2019                                                                                                         

From the new year, dolphins began dying

by the thousands, and those were the ones we saw, 

their bodies washed up on the beaches 

of Northern Peru where local fishermen

in three months counted three thousand 

dead, thirty corpses almost every 

day. And those were the ones they saw.

We wept for the dolphins, some of us: their brains

almost as complex as ours, their play a pleasure

to watch, their pods weaving the water around

our ships. Their faces seemed to smile; they moved

in ways that made us feel, some of us, 

closer to life. Now dolphin bodies, bloated,

were washing across the sands. Scientists blamed

the dolphin deaths on acoustic sensing devices 

used by oil companies to map deposits.

We’d spoken against sonar, some of us;

we’d testified about effects on mammals

in the sea, on dolphins, seals, and whales. We knew

what loud sound could do, because for years,

we’d tested the effects on us; we’d used different

frequencies of sound to torture, disorient, 

or kill our enemies. We’d produced sonic 

bullets and grenades, sonic mines and canons,

weapons to destroy other humans’ eardrums,

or, by vibrating their eyeballs, cause

nausea or stress. We’d tried out sonic torture:

keeping another person awake with constant

noise as we beamed bangs and whistles, or music 

with a beat at top volume into the mind 

of a prisoner trapped inside a cell.

So many people knew about the risks.

The Zoological Society of London 

had found that underwater sonar caused 

the bends in sea mammals—microscopic 

nitrogen bubbles forming in the blood 

and vital organs, bubbles that kill brains—

but BPZ Energy, 

based in Houston, started sounding out 

Peru’s seabed during the very months

the dolphins died. We wanted, some of us, 

to do something, but we could only watch 

and weep—poor, intelligent creatures. Of course, 

Big Oil had implicated us 

with our taste for modern comforts and all of us

were dying from its work, which was our work too, 

as we edged our cars into rush hour’s

stew of fumes and stops. Or flew to Paris.


Copyright 2019 Sandy Solomon

In the first 3 months of 2019, over 3,000 dead dolphins washed onto the shore of northern Peru. (Source: Green World Warriors)

One comment on “Sandy Solomon — Little Letter to the Future: Die Off

  1. Sally bliumis-dunn
    September 30, 2019

    This is so sad and shocking. Is there anything we can do to stop this horror?

    Liked by 1 person

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