‘Waste’ – World Animal Day Poem 2016
Susan Richardson is World Animal Day’s poet-in-residence and in this specially-commissioned poem for World Animal Day 2016, she turns her attention to the critical global issue of ocean debris and the injuries/deaths suffered by marine creatures, including leatherback turtles, when they become entangled in discarded fishing nets (known as ‘ghost gear’) or ingest plastic rubbish that they mistake for prey.
The turtle image was created by visual artist Pat Gregory, with whom Susan has previously collaborated on several published collections of poetry and art. At the bottom of the page you can click on the link to hear Susan reciting ‘Waste’.
The Ghost of Fishing Past has failed
It will haunt degradable dreams
for decade after leathery decade.
The Ghost of Fishing Present
is not the one doing the moaning.
What you hear is the sound
of a thousand gouged flippers.
Mangled skin. Tangled necks.
Flexible shells yelling for protection.
The Ghost of Fishing Yet to Come
nets every ocean current and tide.
Entire gyres are trapped.
Waves writhe and thrash
as the sea sinks
to the bottom of itself.
Her prey migrates
from chip shop
from High Street
and suburb from
till it reaches
the pelagic zone,
in the open sea.
As it floats
past, she grabs
it, drags it
adds it to
a gut already