In My Hometown
backhoes and bulldozers
are ripping the lid off fragile, aquifer
land so a major corporation, AMD
(Advanced Micro Devices)
can build a corporate park
on land they bought from
a spin off corporation of Freeport
McMoRan, the corporation that dumped
radioactive phosphates into the Mississippi River
helping to decimate wetlands which should have
slowed down Hurricane Katrina.
Before that they ripped off a mountain top
in Indonesia, poisoning creeks, rivers, then
teamed up with the Indonesian military
to perpetrate genocide.
Except for the US military, Freeport McMoRan
is arguably the worst corporate polluter on the planet.
Exxon, which is running pressurized gasoline
through a pipeline in my hometown, a pipeline
that leaks once every thirteen months and has exploded
at the edge of school playgrounds in urban neighborhoods,
is arguably the other.
AMD makes micro chips and war games
used by the government to recruit school children into ROTC,
gives money to local NPR, and Austin City Limits
so we will think they are a good corporate citizen,
even though they are ripping the lid off the aquifer.
In my home town we've worked
for thirty years to pass tough water regulations
and divert major corporate projects to a growth zone
off the aquifer, precident and regulation
that AMD doesn't have to follow
because Stratus (aka Freeport) lobbied for State
grandfather laws that bypass us.
Before I sleep and when I wake up
in the morning I think,
"What can we do to stop them?"
In my home town giant corporations
are killing Barton Springs.
Barton Springs is an emerald-green,
spring-fed natural swimming pool in the middle of
town, 67 degrees year around, an eight of a mile
dam to dam, the most beautiful urban swimming hole
in the world. We call it the soul of our city.
Barton Springs is the reason I live here.
The city council members we elected
to protect it sold out quickly.
In my home town major environmental groups
bow to Stratus, take their handouts, spout their jargon
about wise use, watering golf courses with sewage.
Freeport's old point man is director of the board
of our land conservancy.
In my hometown everyone blames everyone else for failing
the great local mission of our time, here, now,
to protect the aquifer and save our springs
We like to think of ourselves as free human beings,
so it is a difficult for us to admit that the water
in our hometown is slave to multinationals,
and so are we.
Today I swam with a fine mesh fish net, kickboard
and flippers, paddled about skimming algae from the top
of the water as it rose to feed on mid-morning light.
Each time the net filled up, I swam to the side
and asked someone to empty gunk into a trash can.
Swimmers were eager to help, asked questions --
"Where does the gunk come from? What is it?"
"It's algae, feeds on nitrates and phosphates which
come from over development on the aquifer. We
can't control it because of grandfathering."
All we can do is clean up the mess.
Until the time comes
we can't even do that.
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
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