America Farm

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The Gulf Waste Land

The Gulf Waste Land

Oceanus beneath us Roars into battle

Herecles shall prevail

They fight in the shade

April indeed is the cruellest month, bleeding

Oil from the dark belly of the ocean floor, mixing

Greed and wrath, stirring

Tradition with technology,

Complacence kept us warm, trusting

in the anointed ones.

Summer has surprised us, looking at the Barataria

oil on the water, we travelled the great boardwalk

Entered the sunlight a great cauldron

We wept as we talked for an hour

Eva, remember the wicked wildlife we once saw here,

Coursing through the underbrush

We saw a huge hole in the bottom of the cypress

I said, I wonder what lives in that hole

You said, here hold my things, I’ll find out

The mythical creature is now dead with oil on his fur

And I was frightened

South in the winter may wither on the vine

What from this greed do men strive to possess

darkness a thousand times over? Sons of man

do we know the depths of fear,we may only guess

gushing from the depths of darkness

blood on the hands and hearts of slaves

to the petrified remains of creatures who ruled the world

so long ago

The dead trees give no shelter, no crickets give us song

and the bayou no sound of water

Oil shall give us shade

That will show you fear

Arbeit Macht Frei

We first laughed in the bayou as we saw the alligator swimming

then the great Heron flying through the marsh

the mother duck protecting her babies

now the furies have unleashed the Great Predator

or was it man?

Thy son’s soul yearns for knowledge

The Madame of Plaquemines, known by the muses

Is superior in her knowledge

The spirit of the aether is your card

she says to the indecisive man

( There is oil in the bird feathers, look!)

The spirit of the primal fire

now is resigned to your fate

Here is the son of morning

Chief among the mighty

Weakness is the sign today

Here is the wheel and here is temperance

and this is blank, I cannot see the meaning

of this one, it is forbidden

Do not Fear the hanged man

Fear death by oil

I see crowds of people

Walking in circles

Unable to produce

If you see the people tell them I will be there

One must be so careful these days

Louisiana City

under the brown sheen of the oily fog

The people crowded the beach, so many

I had no idea there were, so many

Cries the sweet chariot soft and low

Comes to take us home

As it swings low in the tar balls of hell

Each man fixed his eyes before his feet

and focused on the past glory

of sweet salty air, the sound of the seagulls

the pelicans of the brief story

I saw one man, a friend of mine

we fished in the bayou together

I asked him how about that dream you had

the ghosts upon the water?

He answered me in a sorrowful fashion

the pirate is now dead, Lafitte

he is buried in the muck

Lettre de course for the big polluters

II. A Game of Chess

The chair he sat in, like an emperor’s throne

mired in legacy, where the glass reflected on old faces, familiar to all

Held up by walls hallowed by tradition

The golden one peeks at the prompter

( another one in the mirror watches)

An empty desk, a reminder

of the promises of hope and change

The lost innocence of Bran

the king fisher is ailing as the leader

debates the merit of his survival with czars

Perceval shall not triumph in time

unless heed is paid by those

that wait in the wings

The party of tea begins with desire

to rescue Branwen again

from the clutches of the enemies within

Hark therefore the cries of yore

What happened to the Lucre?

In sad light a dolphin swims

above him silence

no walruses to be found

And still they cried

Void of life these channels of shame

Passion and rape have become the same

Oh stay with me she cries

Do not leave me lonely

I fear the night

My People, they call me

They say we are in rat’s alley

My bones, they are cold

and my nerves are bad

What’s that I hear? A blowing

A change in the wind

Maybe nothing, but perhaps?

The audacity to believe in hope at last

Perhaps it could be something

That was oil in the bird’s feathers, Papa!

Are we cursed?

When men on the chessboard get up

and tell you where to go

Maybe you should take heed and

Follow in their direction

all of the King’s men

Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again

Go ask Alice

No grace in the slick

only death by oil

Oh the beautiful doomed birds!

So many birds, so little time

and then there are the fish, and the x

and the y

And the z

And the great procrastinator plays fiddle

while the guitar gently weeps

And the cajun man had his last stand

at the point of grace in the deep

Hurry up, please, it’s time!

Hurry up please, it’s time!

That Eliot rag

It’s so intelligent

So elegant

What shall we do now?

The Waste Land is near

What shall we say?

A game of chess

between the right and the left

and the Fisher King as bounty

III  The Oil Sermon

The Bayou’s life is broken: the last marsh

Has lost its inhabitants to the oily sheen. The wind

Crosses the bayou, unheard. The crawfish have departed.

Sweet Barataria, run softly, while I despair.

There are no birds,herons, fish,

nutria, eagles,alligators, or ducks

Just an oily layer of waste

Above the brackish waters of muck

The people are gone and they left

No forwarding addresses

Sweet Barataria, run softly while I despair

Sweet Barataria, run softly while I ponder this existence

Recovery was yet possible in ’27

Then again after Katrina

I shudder to the bones that this is the last I will see it

No rats creep softly in the vegetation

the ship has gone down with the last of the population.

I cannot fish in the canals

The fish have all succumbed to the Great Fishery House

Redfish Deadfish  pudding and Pie

Oil kissed them all and made them die

Et tu, Brute?

Louisiana City

Under the brown sheen of the oily fog

Mr. Jindal, the governor

Unshaven, with a pocket full of promises

And betrayals by the One

Asks us to not forget him

As he forevermore hunts for life yet in the wild

At the end of the day, when the Big Person

Exits the desk, while his mind is still wandering

The Fisher King awaits for someone

To search for the Holy Grail and save His Ocean

And he walks among the lowest of the dead

The small people in the era of indifference

And wing tip shoes walk among them in arrogance

Common sense Common courtesy

For Commoners is uncommon

Well now that is done let me return

To my golf game, undisturbed

Paperwork, Holding up work

Holding up progress

Or is it a work of digress?

The bayou sweats

oil and tar

The shrimp boats drift

With the oily tide

Their sails have


Drifting oil

Down Grand Isle

Down to the Creole

Ooh la la

We can connect

Nothing with nothing

We can expect


As oil burns

IV. Death by Oil

Timothy from Thibodaux, a fortnight dead

Forgot the sound of the gulf

with the swell of the incoming oil tides

Underneath he lies

No fish left to pick his bones

He spends the evenings alone

Underneath the miles of boom

On the surface the executive observes

As he makes decisions for the Firm

Oh you!

One day you will be as Timothy

Who once worked harder than you

V. What the Thunder Says

After the searchlights diminished

And the horizon was silent

After the fire in oily places


The crying and the mourning

Of lives lost in the deepwater

The thunder cried

We were living

Now we are dying


With every gallon of leaked oil

Here there is no water

Only oil mixed in the brackish depths of the bayou

The land cries

And the animals are gone

Left to petrify

Forming oil for the inhabitants

In millennia of the future

And the boardwalk

Which winds through the Barataria

Is now silent

No life giving water

For the creatures of the bayou

And the thunder cries

Drops of fresh rain

Rain on a barren

Waste Land

Of the Gulf

Shalom, Shalom, Shalom

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