O horror  horror  horror 

greed hath murdered the deep 

its rust- clotted blood seeps 

to our shores weeping 

see see see what you’ve done 


There was never a time for this 

never  never  never 


make deep moan with the whales 

click with the dying dolphins 

drown with the sea turtles 

droop with spartina 

cry with the shrimp 

you’ve killed our home 


our blue-dazzled planet 

we’ve turned to red 

a ghastly rust red 

slaughtered our oyster beds 

stuck feathers bring death


no pelican wings glide 

no current rides 

only the groan of a red tide 

in a world made incarnadine 


gone the sound of pelican wings 

the clatter of ghost crab claws 

marsh grasses in the wind 

oil pooling on shore groans 

no more  no more 


British Petroleum first saying the damage 

will be very little, fails to cap Deepwater Horizon 

with Top Kill,  pumping heavy mud into the well, 

with Junk Shot, injecting golf balls and pieces of rubber 

into the blowout preventer with robots 

which 5,000 feet down end up crashing into each other 

like ancient doomed warriors… 

all the while dropping lethal dispersants into the water.. 


Day after day, the fire rages while oil heads for the shore. 

Humans turn off their tv’s with their remotes 

saying “I can’t watch this. 

I can’t bear this. ‘’ Click, 

leaning back with a beer in their barker loungers 

complaining of the price of gas for their 

bigger and bigger cars, 

while the CEO’s and pols call the disaster an oil “spill.” 


The stilled crickets 

the silent shrimp 

the oil- soaked birds 

the plankton  all ask 

why did we die for your greed? 

what have  you done to our star? 


We humans can only say 

we are caught red-handed 

up to our necks in guilt… 

their blood is on our hands 

our fat pudgy greedy hands 

covered in dead milt 

it was their lives we spilt 

we killed  we killed  killed 


our greed 

exceeds the world’s resources 

piercing the crust 

with our diamond needles 

for the oil which is never enough 

never enough  


men wash their hands in blood 

as best they can 

and look through blind eyes 

at a clotted horizon



Who saved this World Heritage Site, this biosphere reserve, 

the planet’s last pristine birthing place for gray whales 

from destruction when Mitsubishi and the Mexican government 

wanted to build, ESSA, Exportora de Sal, 

a 220 million dollar salt plant covering 116 square miles 

very close to the lagoon? 

I and other Mexican leaders first alerted the world, said Homero Aridjis, 

and founded El Grupo de los Cien, added his wife Betty, 

which went on to initiate the largest environmental campaign in history. 

We too were early warners, said the Mexican boatmen. 

We helped, said Joel Reynolds and Jacob Scherr  

of Natural Resources Defense Council. 

We pitched in, said the United Nations. 

We too, said the coalition of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. 

We joined with NRDC. 

Don’t forget us, said the 15 fund managers who refused  

to do business with Mitsubishi.   

We protested, said the 34 scientists, including 9 Nobel laureates. 

We said, “Don’t buy Mitsubushi,” jeered the California  campaign. 

We were in there fighting, said Bobby Kennedy and Pierce Brosnan. 

And don’t forget me, said Glenn Close. 

Nor us, said the children around the world who sent millions of postcards. 

I stopped it, said President Zedillo of Mexico 

when I withdrew my support in 2000. 

I helped, said his wife, when I touched the calf 

on my first trip to the lagoon. 

I did that, said the mother whale.  I nudged my calf 

right toward the First Lady. 

On this the tenth anniversary of saving the lagoon, 

we are still working, said Joel, and have secured 

protection through easments of key acres on the west side  

and federal lands to the east of the lagoon.  

This could not have been done 

without the help of the Mexican government and its conservationists. 

Hurrry, said the whales, 

spy hopping to show they were watching. 

Don’t give up.  Ever. 


Come help us make the oceans, 

once called in Old Norse, 

the great whale road, 

save for travel. 

Let the whales’ eyes, 

those moons of the forehead, 

remain forever part of our watery planet. 


​Copyright (C) 2013 by Wendy Larsen. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author. "Who Saved the Lagoon" and "Come help us make the ocean" first published in The Gray Whales of Baja by Wendy Larsen, 2012. 



eco-poems by

Wendy Larsen

Wendy Wilder Larsen was born in Boston, moved to California when she was five and has been on the move ever since.  She lived and taught in Vietnam during the war and with her Vietnamese friend, Tran Thi Nga, wrote Shallow Graves:Two Women and Vietnam.  Recently, after a trip to the Ignacio Lagoon in Baja, she wrote a book of  poems with paintings by Josie Merck about the adventure called The Gray Whales of Baja.  The lagoon, the breeding place for the gray whales, was saved from destruction when many envirornmental groups joined to stop the Japanese and Mexicans from building a salt mine nearby.  Larsen lives in Santa Barbara in the winter where she goes out in the channel as often she can to watch the grays on their migration to and from Alaska.  Wendy serves on the Board of Directors of Poets House.