Kelli Russell Agodon: “Unsustainable”


When you broke my recycle bin, I

started calling you Fresh Kills.

I want to keep you in my plastic

Happy Meal heart, but what snaps open

stays on earth forever, my center floating

down a canal until it’s swallowed by a seal.

Who cares our plastic drifts as a tagalong

to the sunset, an autobiography of artificial,

a dead whale washed up in the Philippines

eighty-eight pounds of plastic in its gut.

Damn the turtles! Customers at McDonald’s

want their straws! And we could be practical

lovers if we remembered to bring

our reusable totes into the store—you said

the cashier gave me the stink-eye for forgetting,

but I was lost in my own head thinking

about my grandmother in hospice, leaving

the store with a casket of even more plastic bags.

It hurts to say my convenience is more important

than the sea. I write a postcard to the earth

—I love you, but watch me navigate your landfills

in stilettos, let me kill your buzz. And you know

I’m talking about the bees now. My hands in the dirt—

if you want to gather honey, don’t kick over every hive. 

Kelli Russell Agodon’s most recent book, Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press), was a Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Prize in Poetry. Her other books include The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice and Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Prize for poetry and Washington State Book Award Finalist. She has received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, James Hearst Poetry Prize, and the Puffin Foundation. Her work has been featured on NPR, ABC News, and in O, the Oprah Magazine. Agodon is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press and Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women in Washington State. Her next book of poems, Dialogues with Rising Tides, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2021.

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