Vani Winick, “Night Prowl” and “Black Tide.”

Night Prowl

© Gerry Gomez

© Gerry Gomez

by Vani Winick

Will you reach into the sky
Harvest some stars
And grind them into
A powder for me?

I want to drink star soup
With a side of midnight clouds
Chasing a promise
Of eternal night

The night my cat learned to hoot
Was the same night my hair became feathers
Not just the hair on my head
But all of my hair

We sifted through the seeds in the birdfeeder
But failed to locate any almonds
It was time for my cat to hunt evening frogs
And for me to search for crickets

I had been told
That some crickets carry
Violins to play at night
Using oak sap as rosin

Shimmering in the moonlight
Their wings sustained melodies
Designed for the intention
Of singing the world to sleep

Somehow their songs
Have the opposite effect on me
I join the night prowlers
Who stay awake to listen

At night I speak
The language of my dreams
And all is possible
Beyond the realm of sleep

The owl and I
Whisper with our wings
Drifting on wind currents
Into the dreams of others

Have you ever wondered
How you could dream of someone
You have never met?
Ever wondered if they were real?

I don’t want to alarm you
But I am certain
A tribe of night prowlers
Have crept into your dreams

Black Tide

The ocean draws in a breath
Exhaling and choking out a black wave
Vomiting a sticky soup of tar and salt
Onto pristine unsuspecting shores

A pipeline has ruptured
And the ocean thickens with oil
Slippery scales stick together
Immobilizing fish like resin paintings

Iridescent oily rainbows coalesce
Sliding over the surface
And garish black sculptures
Collect on the stained shore

Cormorants and pelicans cannot fly
Their feathers, now plastered in tar
Are too heavy for flight
Too heavy for life…

Plains All American
The company that caused this spill
Wastes time “assessing the damage”
While locals arrive immediately

Neighbors and heartbroken beach lovers
Spend their morning shoveling tar
In beach clothes lacking protective gear
They fill bucket after bucket with gobs of tar

Rows of plastic orange buckets
Spread across the shore
And volunteers refuse to leave
Even as officials threaten to ticket their cars

There were earlier signs of corrosion
Warnings that the pipes were old and weak
This rupture could have been prevented
Instead of resulting in a 105,000 gallon leak

How does a spill appear to the fish below?
Does the water darken,
The surface shimmer
Fragmenting their view of the sky?

Do they keep watch near the rigs?
Patrols of anglerfish warily surveying
Oceanic depths with their lanterns
For signs of deadly disturbance?

Do whales sound sonar alarms in an emergency
Hoping that other marine life might be spared?
Ocean evacuation isn’t an option
How can they escape the deadly black tide?

Tons of crude oil are pumped out of the earth
Eerie see-saws jamming up and down
Reaching the end of an un-renewable resource
Redefining peak oil, refusing to stop

Pumping harder still
This process of hydraulic fracturing
The insolent rupture
Of the earth’s bones

We have mapped
Black lines into the earth
A web of impermeable
Un-breathable roads

Will all American plains
Be overshadowed by dark goop
Colors and textures lost
Beneath a mask of black?

Vani Alana Winick is a multi-media artist who recently concentrated on photography, glass-working and book art. Interest in writing and the environment are an integral part of her artistic process. She is currently attending Santa Barbara City College. Previously attended Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program and Rhode Island School of Design.

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