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The oil spill and the food web
By Dan Brennan
30 June 2010
Â© World Socialist Web Site
The ecological destruction of the oil disaster in the Gulf is perhaps most aptly embodied in the pictures of brown pelicans made lifeless by a thick coating of toxic sludge. However, the true toll may spread far beyond these dreadful images. Scientists warn that the gravest threat, including possible ecosystem collapse, is posed by the poisoning of organisms at the base of the food chain.
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The Great Santa Barbara Oil Disaster, Or: A Diary
a poem by Conyus
We ride down the coast hwy
through the heavy rain
to a beach that sits in a rocky cove
hidden from the eye.
I sit in the rear of the bus
where the shadows pass
over cold metal walls
& window screens,
looking through dirty glass
at the somber scenery.
A young Mexican girl stands in the muddy debris
of her home, rummaging through the mud.
The river flooded suddenly two days ago
after a torrential rain & shifted the terrain.
Overhead the clouds mount menacingly
in small squalls, prostituting themselves again
against the sky, & we turn left off the freeway
into the spent community of Carpinteria
like a funeral procession on a grey Saturday,
heading to the bone yard in tandem.
Beyond the border of thin sidewalks,
sit bleached out houses on paper stilts
with tattered venetian blinds & curtains
barely moving on the stiff ocean breeze.
We walk beneath the bleeding sky
single file to the oily beach in perfect silence;
everything around us is a chemical foundry.
The 1st. night
the college girls
in the dormitory
across from us
their window in
bras & panties,
came to watch us work,
in hip boots & work gloves,
cleaning oil & shoveling straw.
Some said, â€śmy! donâ€™t they look almost human?â€ť
Others said, â€śa convict is a crime. donâ€™t forget that!â€ť
Sometimes the childrenâ€™s ball
bounded in our area,
& the Spanish inmates
soccer kicked it back lightly.
We all laughed
& smiled a lot
the first day.
The sunset & the night
came on slowly.
From out of the night
with church fathers
& concerned parents
to tell the children
not to play
within the border of red flags
& the fence of thick cane around us.
the sky would fall
& hell would follow,
if they instilled
in our minds.
we didnâ€™t laugh
anymore, or smile
at all the second day.
From that day forward,
we just worked,
hard & steady,
with our heads
low & our eyes
to the ground,
so the sky
& the people
& the world
All day we work behind the sea breaker
in the black sand, shoveling straw
& thick lumps of oil
into the mouth of the skip loader,
while the cat skinner rides high
in the driverâ€™s seat with a hole for his eye.
On the beach,
in the window
of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club,
Black servants watch us
swing picks & shovels
in the wet sand
clearing a cane field
on their small island
in the Caribbean.
On a concrete wall
below this Diaspora
i sit & swing my legs over the ice plants
& puddles of oil where sand crabs,
& small fish lie dead
& stinking in the sun.
Beneath my work jacket
i touch the crushed sandwich
of white bread & yellow cheese
& think of the young Chinese girl
in the pink hairnet with braces.
After lunch we return with rakes & hip booths,
wading through the constant tide
of thick oil & grey foam,
to gather balls of sticky oil
stuck between rocks,
& place them in yellow plastic bags.
Along the beach
the tide falls back out to sea,
taking with it the trail of our feet
that follows us like a shadow.
I turn my back to the Santa Barbara Sound
& pull the weather jacket tight
to shield against the cold & damp air.
Over my shoulder,
past the far islands near the horizon,
someone is singing a song,
that i can barely hear,
in a voice
that i cannot recognize.