Chemical Spill by Peter Mladinic

A belowdecks storeroom—
bottles and vials spilled from drawers
and shelves at sea in rough waters--
was locked three years.
Mr. May and Chief Payne said to go down
and clean it up.  It was like a bunch of dead
little birds, the crinkled brown bags,
torn cardboard boxes, broken glass,
bulkheads and overhead peeling,
a sickly orange tinged with yellow,
tilted shelves we took apart
and got out, then started on the glass.
Our drill, like a jackhammer
in a laborer’s grip tearing up concrete,
had clout.  We stripped corroded rust,
sandblasted bulkheads, painted the deck. 
I recall drilling away the bulkheads’ rust.
Even masked, we must have inhaled toxic
particles.  Years later a nurse who smoked
and drank said “Ninety-nine percent is our
DNA, heart, cancer..not damn thing
we can do about it.”
Photo by Laker on

About the Poet:

Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table, is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications.  An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.

One thought on “Chemical Spill by Peter Mladinic

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: