Journalism In Verse


Ryan Zinke Wakes Up

in Environment/U.S. by

Ryan Zinke wakes up
in half a bed.

He’s only half awake.
He hops to the kitchen—

one foot
has gone missing—

makes half a cup of coffee,
then hops his way

through the living room
out to the porch.

It’s only halfway there.
Still, he can lean on the railing.

He can stand in the half-light dawn
and watch the show,

what they’re tunneling after:

a subterranean

those seeds
that grow volcanoes?

maybe the Rumored Lockbox
of Cortez

stuffed full
of Infinity Coal? . . .

though it ought to be his neighbor’s yard
they’re gouging out

and hauling off,
not his.

“Hey, morons,” he’s yelling,
“what the hell?!”

but nobody cares.
They don’t care,

and they can’t hear anyway,
not with all the crane noise,

not with those excavator engines
tearing the air

and grinding it
to sonic dust,

so Ryan Zinke decides to go inside;
he’s in charge of Interior.

He sits on his half-couch, watching
his half-TV.

Half the plot lines
are missing.

And half of the dialogue
is mute.

He’s got half a mind to get angry,
but who could he call?—

the government’s busy,
Zinke knows; he sets the schedule:

somewhere an aquifer
to frack through;

then narwhals
to slick up with oil;

and this place in Utah,
Grand Staircase,

Time to make it small,
re-map it with a hacksaw.

A saw he can tote around the office,
a saw as dull as his indifference,

a saw the size of generations.
A job for a hack.



Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument will be pruned by half, Hatch officials say [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Despite lawsuits, BLM starts planning for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante areas [The Spectrum]

Rob Carney is the author of four previous books of poems, most recently 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, as well as the forthcoming collection The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press, July 2018). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Columbia Journal, and many others, and he writes a regularly featured series called “Old Roads, New Stories” for Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. He lives in Salt Lake City.

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