The Ways of Agent Orange by Michael H. Brownstein

I am not a silent poet

Once I listened to a poet
who wrote lines about Cincinnati
using the Yellow Pages,
the names of corporations,
factories, the outpouring of chemical
into the early evening sky.
I saw the sky she saw, the setting sun,
the slow motion vibration of light
through a pollution of setting sun
caught in prisms, the end of day
wonderful with color, a drizzle
of compounds, everything
rainbowlithic. Years later a river
in that town caught fire.
So I ask you, Agent of Orange, can you
hear the beauty in that poem, too?
Did you see the splatter of spray
over American soldiers,
Vietnamese, the now extinct forest
wildlife and trees a display
of beauty? Did you not know
what it would cover, its effects
on people and life, the evolution
of humans to almost humans?
Did you not think the fish would change
and the water buffalo and the small peeper?

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