Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Toxicant Inspired Poetry: Happy April Fools!

I’d like to share a poem written by a student who is no April’s Fool.

Last week I'd asked my students to respond to an Earth Forum posting by Sidney Draggan about the detection of a range of chemicals from personal care products to pharmaceuticals to detergents (all considered indicators of municipal waste) measured in earth worms by scientists from U.S. Geological Survey’s Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and reported in Environmental Science and Technology.

Sidney asked if anyone was surprised.

This was one student's response:

When you have a disgruntling ache,
Ibuprofen’s the thing to take.
If you’re feeling a little blue,
Pop an antidepressant or two.
Your kid’s attention span is shorter than that of a fly?
Stimulant medication is the thing to try.
You see, we’ll cook up a cure for whatever ails you,
And maybe a smattering of things you never knew
We're problems with chemical solutions;
We assure you all your kinks have easy resolutions.
Pharmaceuticals are the way to go
When you get an infection in your big toe
If plaque has clogged your blood’s flow
If your hair refuses to grow
If your insulin has fallen a little low.
And a bazillion other things, you know.

With this present in your mind,
It may not be such a surprising find
That even our worms are taking drugs!
Yes these naughty little bugs
Load up all day long!
But before you begin to think them wrong,
And go about accusing,
You might consider it is not their choosing
To ingest this vile mix of stuff.
You see, oddly enough
We are the ones to blame.

We may nobly aim
With pills to eliminate our daily pain
But it all ends up going down the drain.
Everything we get down with a drink,
Everything we throw down the sink-
Be it detergent or anti-bacterial soap
(It would take ages to enumerate the scope)-
Goes right on to a waste treatment facility.
I hope it does not affect your mind’s tranquility
To hear this is not where they stay,
Some into our drinking water stray!
Others catch a ride on our own waste-
Or “biosolids” if you want to show some taste-
And are applied freely to agricultural fields
So they will have record-breaking yields.
Their life sentence may sound tragic,
But worms are the ones that work the magic-
Turning dung into beautiful soil,
And what do they get for all their toil?
A mouthful of our chemical excess.
I think this is something we should address.
There is simply no good to gain,
When these things enter the food chain.
Against our wishes,
Some find their way into our dishes.
You can imagine this creates
Some concern over the toxicity of what’s in our plates
Maybe the effects of these chemicals are not so bad,

Or maybe we’ll be driven raving mad.
But the truth is it’ll take years to unveil
The effects these multiple low-level exposures entail.
If we one day find
That deeply entwined
Are the causes of our health woes
And our daily chemical dose

I can assure you of this:
There is guaranteed eternal bliss
For the one who finds an antidote
Clarity Guerra

If you'd like to pass this around, please remember to credit Clarity!

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