From my poetry chapbook SLICK online at White Knuckle Press.

Response Teams

Naked Island: Workers in red and yellow raincoats and 
white hardhats, walk with high pressure, hot water hoses, 
spraying sludge. Some use buckets and shovels. Some 
stand weeping. Nearby, she holds a dead murrelet in her 
hands, tarballs at her feet.

Back home, Grandmother takes out the Sea Grizzly 
Chilkat robe from her cedar chest, a blanket that took her 
two years to weave. She wraps it around her shoulders 
and turns up the radio. She dances to a new song: 987-
foot tank vessel Exxon Valdez, 11 million gallons, oil 
slick, over 3,000 square miles, 350 miles of beaches.

Sea Grizzly Robe

* * *

On March 24th, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez went aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound. It ruptured 8 of 11 cargo tanks and spewed 11 million gallons of crude oil. The poems and video in this post are dedicated to those who helped with the cleanup and those who still work to prevent such disasters.

One of the best resources for learning about the Exxon Valdez oil spill is found at The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trust Council and the Anchorage Daily News' Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and Hard Aground.

FACTS: (resource: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trust Council)

1. A jury in Alaska, however, found him not guilty of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol.
2.  Hot water treatment was popular until it was determined that the treatment could be causing more damage than the oil. Small organisms were being cooked by the hot water.
3.  It took more than four summers of cleanup efforts before the effort was called off. Not all the beaches were cleaned and some beaches remain oiled today.
4. The carcasses of more than 35,000 birds and 1,000 sea otters were found after the spill, but since most carcasses sink, a fraction of the actual death toll. The best estimates: 250,000 seabirds, 2,8000 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.


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