Deepwater Horizon


Ill-plumed, the sea crashes.
Men in tank suits try to re-boot,
while their wives and daughters wait in shrimp factories,
hands gnarled over nothing.

An aerial shot reveals a hole in the earth.
What gushes darkly through blue waters
isn’t life blood, but power. Or, the makings of power:
that which will someday be refined.

If we could gain control, then what?
Or more to the point, how long? Sea turtles scrim sand beaches,
dig shallow ovals, never to discover the eggs they deposit
turn into pearls of tar.

Far out on the curved horizon, a rig rides heroic.
We rule. From the frail call of the least tern
to the blue fluke of the giant tuna,
our hunger trumps.

Already it drapes the coral reef
in still ribbons of black.


We are the wick, love.
That probes the very core of earth
and draws its fuel along our length.
We can’t help it; it’s our nature.

Even if we’re careful —
and cut the cold before we go;
walk to where we shop;
buy what harms us least –

our every act consumes. We leave a little trail of ash.
Multiply that by a billion.
Subtract the total from the silver bubble
that carries us through deepest space.

No wonder if the world we ride
flames out as it goes. We are the fuse, love.


The well’s been capped.
The wealth’s been kept.
The wrong’s been done: we’ve sprung the trap.
The barrels of black and yellow tears have all (for now) been wept.

We may curse what’s come to pass,
we may learn to beg for water,
but once again the pools of gas
run through forms – and are metered.

Beneath our lives of light and cool,
the darkness we suppress
probes for cracks, corrodes the rule
that whatever we want will work out best.

The well’s been capped; the winds blow free.
How blue the surface of the new-scrubbed sea.

The 1st section was published in the Evergreen Review.

Daniel Wolff’s most recent books are Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913 and How to Become an American: a History of Immigration, Assimilation and Loneliness.