Story #8: ‘Clean Up the Great Northwest’

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Art accompanying Doris Brevoort’s poem in the Fremont Forum. (Courtesy Doris Brevoort)
By Doris Brevoort

I was in Portland and took a Greyhound up the coast to get home to Seattle. I was astounded when the bus stopped for a rest stop at the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, where families with children in strollers were standing there looking at the mountain through binoculars! I wrote this poem in 1980 when I was a writer for Seattle’s Fremont Forum.

Mount St. Helens Talkin’ Blues

Round about the 80s unpopular decisions
were being made on the basis of unpopular visions
now it was up for grabs, a disposable society
where macro-bizz & nukes had gained widespread notoriety;
& though the earthspirit had never diminished,
some were acting like nature was just sold out and finished.

St. Helen had been following this terrible mess,
and she decided it was time to vent her distress:
she started to rumble, and boil and steam
and threw a few rocks out onto the scene.

“Now hear this, you human crew,
there’s a few things you’ve just got to renew!
There’s a few adjustments you’ve got to start making
and a few precautions you’d better start taking!

We used to have a pretty fine identity here,
the peaks and whales could see each other clear
wolves and elk kept each other in line,
crustaceans & salmon breathed cedar and pine.

I knew it was inevitable, someone would explore,
& find the beauty here they were looking for.
But now they’ve got our birds on wings-and-knees
from the roar o’ those dirtbikes and TVs.

For a hundred years now I’ve been pretty reserved
but this wasteful attitude’s getting on my nerves
and this radiation nonsense has simply got to stop,
as you can see, my temper is about to pop.

And what’s more, I’ve noticed your process is serving
No one but yourselves, and that’s very disturbing:
What happened to mutual cooperation,
Honor, respect, like the Indian nations?

So how bout cleaning up the great Northwest,
the rivers and forests you say you love best?
the farmlands and beaches the tankers have closed
and stop clear-cutting the end of my nose!
Oh, and deactivate the Trojan’s red hot core, too,
’cause folks, if you don’t, I’m gonna bury it for you.”

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Now & then here and now…