Short Sighted Eyes

[an environmental slam poem by Shana Tinkle

written in/for the Searching For Balance: Oil and Water workshop at

Brown University, Providence, RI on October 5, 2014]

      The Earth

is a circle

      a cycle     

            a globe

A coherent whole

      Of incoherent parts




     To exist together

            To find Balance



Hot and cold

Day and night

Light and darkness


Land and water

Oil and water

Water and air




These are the parts

The moving parts

They never stop

They just get faster


We’re turning up the treadmill

   Cranking the amp

   Amping the volume

The energy the speed

      Constant buzzing worker bees



     Building earning yearning burning running turning eating mowing laundry sewing reaping owing


    Stealing raping grazing crazing





      Guzzling nuzzling

      nozzling chugging

      trenching trudging

    drinking dining fine wining


                  Imperiously.  Imperviously. 



In a cloak of chosen


To shield us from our



            The shame we should feel


    For harming our Mother

   Rending her womb

     Sounding her doom

Selling her blood

To power our looms

                  Our booms, our zooms

                 our zippity-do’s.


            The shame we should feel

         For caging, enslaving, beating, mistreating, and eating


our brothers, our sisters, our cousins


            The horses and cows

               Chickens and pigs

             Muskrats, dolphins

                               bananas and figs.


We have no vision

Outside of ourselves

Melt down more oil

For the next pair of glasses


Try to see better. Clearer

   Through the smoggy fog

  Of our own creation.


Where will we go

  When there’s no more

Paradise to explore

      On vacation?


When our mother gives up

  And sucks her land back in

And the islands

And their cities

Become a world of



And we must learn to breathe

    Like fish.


The world is an accordion.

She expands and contracts

Contracts and expands


Just like us.

We learn it from her

From her seasons, her cycles,

The sun, the moon

Our lungs

      Breathing In

         Breathing Out


                        One for me

                               One for tree

                        Both for both

                        In harmony

                            In rhythm.

We all have poisons we must expel


But will there be enough fungus

                  to sell?

Enough mushrooms to go around

     To save us from ourselves?


Too soon to tell, perhaps.

    Perhaps too late

  To slow it all down

To reverse the chain of destruction


    Already raining down


Our acid rain

Our soapy drains

Our eclectic blends of toxic swill

To pump and drill


Disrupting the cycles

      With grids and bars

       With dams

                 of damnation

      Much worse than what

          beavers build…



Our goals, collective

Now seem somewhat

Out of control

Our accordion’s burst

We played it too hard

Now no more music may sound.


Sometimes this Earth

Can be so Grand

      Cosmically huge, impossible

        to see, to do, to go, to draw, to cover it all


Even to gesture at the attempt is



    All while it’s sustaining

And far more entertaining

      Than our glum evening news


            I wish, for one, to see it all.

      Explore, discover, taste, swim, climb and enjoy


I know it’s impossible.

But still, I must try.


Sometimes the air goes out,

the earth contracts





It brings us close

As though the two sides of the globe

Might one day meet

And kiss

Embrace, and applaud each other

      Without violence


Must we dig a hole to China first?

I’m not convinced

that shit can work.

      The Earth’s core

        Our mother’s heart


                  Burns too hot for us

                No water down there

             Only carbon



           That would chafe and boil us Alive

   Long before

        we reach the other side


But still. We can try.

   To trek. Traverse. To sail.

  To see the sun rise

From a new direction

     A new perception brought on by

      A little Perspective.


We are not large like our Mother.

Not yet. Probably never.

We may not outgrow her.

We have nothing to show her.

Our perspective is limited

To the things

We can see.

© 2014 by The Pachaysana Institute. 

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