Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Poets for Living Waters

Right now, I’m standing at the front my summer class while my 33 students scribble dutifully in their blue books. It’s an open-book/notebook test, so I don’t really have to proctor them, which makes this blogging possible. I still find myself squinting at them every so often–old habit, I suppose.

Poets for Living Waters won’t stop oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, nor will it clean the wings of pelicans or make fish able to breathe. It won’t even cost Tony Hayward his job. When it comes to real-world effectiveness, poetry is down there with shaking a fist at the tide. But we write it anyway, perhaps because we feel that if our words can’t change the world, maybe they can chronicle it in some small way. And maybe, if they’re powerful enough words, they can convince people to take some real world action.

So that’s why I contributed some poems to (no word yet on if they want them), and continue to read Poets for Living Waters, a “poetry action in response to the Gulf Oil Disaster.” Here are links to a couple I’ve appreciated so far: “Ode to the Pelican” by Alison Pelegrin and “Who Has No Land Has No Sea” by Fady Joudah. And here’s one of the poems I submitted, just for the hell of it.

“Salons are collecting hair to soak up oil.”

I wish I had hair like Absalom,
weighing two hundred shekels
by the royal standard, cut only
when it got too heavy for him.
I would offer it up, sheared
to the scalp. I wish I had hair
like the Dad from the Play-Doh
Mop Top Shop, crankable.
I would submit to raw materials stuffed
in from below, to a plunger forcing hair
through my follicles, again and again.
I wish I had hair like the bamboo patch
in my front yard, insistent, pliable.
I would send its roots wide for water,
thrust shoots into air, no matter how often
I was cut back. I wish I had hair
sere as sandstone, thirsty for crude,
for sulfur. If hair would work,
would soak up the pluming oil,
I would shave executive heads
with my hands and a straight razor,
would swim down to the riser pipe
and junk shot it closed, tamp dandruff
flakes into the leaks. I would shave
my beard, my legs, my back for this.


June 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Thank you for doing this Brian.

    Comment by offthepagepoetry | June 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. What a cool poem…and a cool image. If we could all, collectively, take our hair and mop up the mess…yes.


    Comment by Megan | June 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. Having trouble getting started today, just thinking about all this. The poem helped somehow, voiced how I feel. Thanks.

    Comment by Manette Ansay | June 3, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Brian,

    Love your poem!

    bamboo patch

    the bamboo patch
    in my front yard, insistent, pliable.
    I would send its roots wide for water,
    thrust shoots into air, no matter how often
    I was cut back.

    my favourite poet posted
    –Franz Wright

    Every dawn a fog of dead leaves, a wintriness of voices past, whispers along the wires of a deserted Midwest,

    You don’t want to know my opinion on this; you don’t want to know what I think.

    Comment by ILONA MARTONFI | June 5, 2010 | Reply

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