I have been thinking about places like Cheshire, Ohio and Martin County, Kentucky these days when we are trying to keep fracking out of our area. The only silver lining is that people of very different political leanings are joined in their opposition to the fracking: Republicans, Democrats, Tea-partiers, and Occupiers . . . which is not to say there are not people who want the money and are not concerned about the consequences. Below are two pieces from Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane on the topic.
Once Dick dreamt he wasn’t married to Jane. He didn’t have two children, and he didn’t live in Spendersville, Ohio. Wherever he walked, whatever street or shop he visited, no one recognized him, and he saw no one he knew. Above him the sky turned to smoke, and people with faces of ghosts drifted aimlessly around him. Where am I? One man pointed to a sign, Cheshire, Ohio. Home of the Cheshire cat, the man said, smiling widely as everything disappeared but his smile.
*Chesire, Ohio is the largest ghost town in the state of Ohio., a town so contaminated by American Electric Power’s massive coal-fueled power plant that when the EPA demanded they burn a lower-sulfur coal, clean up its act and submit to testing standards, the company decided it would be simpler to buy the entire town and silence its citizens.
for all the reporters at Grist.org
Dick never believed those stories about Cheshire, Ohio, a town where people’s skin was burned by sulfuric clouds released from smokestacks. Or those tales of the mountain streams in Martin County, Kentucky and the Big Sandy River between Kentucky and West Virginia where the pollution from mountain top removal caused water to turn black with cold sludge, and all aquatic life was lost. Maybe he’d have believed them if they took place in another world, a third world, like Ecuador or Bolivia, but not in Dick’s world. He dismissed such news as left-wing propaganda, right up there with global warming, endangered species, and mercury pollution (had anyone else read that absurd study claiming that 630,00 children are born in this country each year with mercury blood levels high enough to cause neurological damage?). He mocked the environmentalist’s claims that oil-drilling in the Arctic National Refuge would affect the caribou’s calving season, that herbicides like Atrazine entered the drinking water of the Midwest and caused prostate cancer in men and deformities in frogs, fish and other wildlife such as missing or multiple sets of organs. What did folks want? To give the world to the insects? The frogs?
Nin Andrews is the author of 5 full collections of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux. Her literary comics are posted on Best American Poetry's Blog on Monday mornings.