KR OnlinePoetry

Blowout

from the testimony of Micah Sandell, Steve Bertone, Douglas
Brown, & Randy Ezell, as recorded in the National Commission
on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill & Offshore Drilling’s
Report to the President.

up on the main deck      I seen mud
shooting all the way up to the derrick      gas
& smoke filled      so loud      like taking an air
hose & sticking it in your ear      starboard
explosion      knocked to the floor      —fire—
to the back of the cab      hands on my head

• •

a freight train thumping in my head
lights out      a man so coated in blood
I had no idea who      P.A. System: Fire.
Fire. Fire.      taste & smell of fuel      gas
fire from derrick leg to leg out the starboard
window      They are all gone      methane air

• •

in the engine control room      loud air
leak sound      the alarms wailed & I heard
well-control situation      fell through subfloor
amid cable trays      wires      into the mud-
dark      buried under ceiling      gas
ripping      engine rev      a second blast fired

• •

look down      in the moon pool only fire’s
solid sheet      look up      nothing here
but flames way past the crown      deck gassed
slick      1 ½ inches deep      —head
for the lifeboats      abandon ship—      mud
thick as mucus      don’t slip      starboard

• •

heat & smoke boiled from the rig      sun-star
bright      a blast furnace      the fire
our only light      I crawled over rubble
over a body      I could feel the droplets of air
misting my skin      methane      heard
an ocean on fire      a deafening roar of lit gas

• •

have we EDSed      yes      have we EDSed,
I have to be certain      yes      the control board
lit red      debris-clogged ether      the jumpers’ heads
visible amid the waves      & on fire-
licked rafts the passengers rock in acrid air
We need a knife      terror’s coat a dense mud

• •

on the Bankston a black torrent      (head back
500 m.)
      an egret mud-covered on starboard deck
& that pyre      the dead the very air we breathe

Rebecca Dunham is the author of two collections of poetry, The Flight Cage (Tupelo Press, 2010) and The Miniature Room (TSUP, 2006). She is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.