We marched in a parade against nuclear waste
Twenty years ago.
One of the activists wore a padded dragon suit
with a long green tail.
She carried a sign–
“If you think my breath smells bad,
wait till you smell nuke fumes.”
This was back when the Nuclear Reprocessing plant
was operating in West Valley,
A beautiful, wooded area of western New York.
They finally closed the plant
but it’s still heavily contaminated with Radioactive waste.
And we’re subjected to more and more insidious poisons.
The whole country reeks of dragon’s breath.
Supermarket vegetables shine lush and tropical
under their coating of pesticide and wax,
Irradiated with Cesium 139, No bumps, insect holes or wrinkles mar the smoothness,
The fruit is as dead as the ink on the Sunday Supplement.
Drinking water comes out of the taps
shimmering with pearls of chlorine, fluorine, and lead.
In my yard,
Soft as a ghost,
Transparent as an angel,
Atrazine is slipping into the blotting paper of my lawn,
As my next door neighbor has his lawn squirted
by a man in a white mask.
To eliminate the weeds.
In two decades–
More subdivisions have appeared,
Trees lopped, habitats destroyed, highways built. The deer have taken to foraging among the automobiles on the roads,
Their carcasses slumped in the ditches.
Out in West Valley,
Tests have shown that gamma Radiation
is leaking into the water table,
Invading Buttermilk Creek, Cattaraugus Creek,
Spilling into Lake Erie,
the water supply for the area.
Most people don’t want to hear about it,
They don’t want to see the dragon again.
But the invisible virulence can etch into your cells,
Knot around your genes like piano wire,
Poison the land forever.
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