Monday, August 9, 2021

Amy Holman


Go for a #10 business size
and roll your pen from jaw to fluke.
I think a humpback is easy to draw
with the spine along the fold
but you could choose the Killer.

To say this oil spill is a killer
is apt though BP likes to downsize
catastrophe—make six or seven folds
on warnings and shove them in a pocket. A fluke
is a barb, a harpoon that will draw

blood, a different kind of spill. Draw
the dorsal fin of the killer
whale before you do the fluke.
It’s a sharper angle of size
on the envelope flap you unfold.

Cut a blowhole in the fold
of a #10 on the crease. Now draw
the mouth that seems to smile. A ten size
death is decimate—gulf bleeds to sea—a killer
reduction. An oil spill is not a fluke

in a business without precautions. A fluke
slapped on the sea can be S.O.S. As waves fold
dispersants into gasoline, and petroleum in pelican eggs, the killer
changes form. Bluefin in cardiac arrest. Now draw
the blind eye. We were too in love with tank size,

reads our epitaph. Evolution makes a killer fold: shrimp without eyes.
I can’t draw a breath in the size of all our dying. Survival is a fluke.

Amy's YouTube video reading of "How to Make a Whale...":

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Amy confesses: "The title of my poem was an unclaimed article title from a writing site — essentially, questions typed into search engines. The odd title would lead well to a poem. Since I like whales and care about the oceans, and at the time I started this the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had just happened, I decided to try making an envelope whale, and writing a sestina. I could play with “killer” and “fluke” and “breath” really easily. The paper whale was a success—a photo appears on my website—but the poem was not. I set it aside for about ten years, and recently looked at it. If I reduced it by one of the words/stanzas, taking it from a sestina to a quintina, and added a few marine life deformities caused by the oil spill, then I could arrive at my poem."

AMY HOLMAN is a poet, literary consultant, and artist staying put in Brooklyn, New York. Her poems have recently appeared in Gargoyle, Blueline, BigCityLit, Live Nude Poems, and Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea, the 2019 anthology from great weather for MEDIA. She is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window, published in 2010 with Somondoco Press, and four chapbooks. She teaches workshops occasionally through The Hudson Valley Writers Center, and was an instructor for Environmental Creative Writing at the Tarrytown Arts Camp in July.


John Philipp said...

Such a delightful poem, Amy. Thanks.

JMH said...

Love this!