Where The River Burns

A poem about one of the catalysts of the environmental movement.

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I’ll tell you the tale of a river of fire
A wholly manmade creation
Such an environmental tragedy caused
By wholesale degradation

It’s the story of the once mighty Cuyahoga River
Now made sickly and slow
Lined with submerged cars, stinking of oil and sewage
It would ooze rather than flow

A spark fell from the overhead railway bridge
And landed on floating debris
The river burned, sending up thick black smoke
That billowed up several storeys

You’d be forgiven for thinking that
They didn’t see it coming
Yet nine times in 84 years this had happened
Due to industrial dumping

From this and other tragedies came environmentalism
And the birth of the EPA
A new awareness of corporate pollution
And the very first Earth Day

But our waters threaten to burn once again
Through deregulation and fracking
Unless you prefer your tap water flammable
Slash and burn capitalism needs sacking

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