For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014


there was a rumour

that the fission plant

effected the heath of families

who lived near its run off

children who played in the water

became consumptive


the scientists at the plant

claimed that was because of poor nutrition

bad genetic make up in breeding

too much moose pie not enough fish cakes

those doctors had a list of reasons

why the fission plant was not responsible

even though there had not been one case

of consumption or ocular degeneration

till it had opened


the doctors said that was because

we didn’t have the diagnostic ability

to find these things out

till there was fission plant

to bring the economy here to life


besides what was the big deal

a few coughing children

or work for lots and lots of people

something to keep everyone happy

the plant was not the reason

the  moose were no longer breeding

there was nothing in their waste run off

that would interrupt

the gestation cycle of any species

besides how can you stop the moose

from drinking in the streams

that were now radiant roiling

with purple blue in the sunset

thanks to the discharge from the plant


such pretty colors

why didn’t we like the pretty colors

what did we have against purple and blue

were we selfish monochromatic bores

who only cared about our health

we had to get with the program

come into the present

stop living in the past

suck it up pay the price

of stepping into the glorious

purple and blue future

think of all the good they were doing

soon we might even have light at night


the villagers were unimpressed

by these impassioned denials

the village didn’t want to retreat into the past

yet didn’t know if the price

we had to pay

to stay in the present was worth it


the parents of the consumptives

sat by the glittering purple blue stream

and began to weep

hoping their tears could undo the damage


door to progress?

This is perhaps the most directly political of the Village pieces. I tackle pollution more directly in some of my Brown Betty pieces – growing up, as I did, in Sydney, Cape Breton, which at the time was one of the most polluted spots in Canada, I have first hand experience. The toxic waste was due to the steel plant that belched blast furnace discharge clouds into the air at regular intervals & a toxic chemical runoff that formed a large, bog-like pond in the heart of the city.


last progressive cat

Years after the steel plant closed down, suppressed studies were found that showed they were aware of the truly poisonous nature of the run off & discharge but opted to keep it up rather than make it known they knew. Family closest had arsenic in the soil that the kids played in.


progressive roof line

The ‘fission’ plant’s defence is real enough – I’ve heard it used many times by many industries. I wanted to push it into absurdity though with the purple & blues – minimizing the damage & also by shifting blame from the polluters to those polluted for not being accepting enough of progress.

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


pollute me

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