Lines from the Reports of the Investigative Committees

By Joel Brouwer b. 1968 Joel Brouwer

The Department of the Interior and Department of Homeland Security announced a joint enquiry into the explosion and sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon on April 22. The us House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources have also announced investigations.
    Last week bp launched its own investigation into the incident and has an investigation team at work in Houston, Texas.

—bp.com, April 28, 2010

Beneath three thousand feet, the sea is wholly dark.
The shuttle feeds hydraulics to the blind shear ram
and represents a single failure point for disconnect.
Recommendation: Declare selected points on earth
invisible. Affected communities have been provided
with limited quantities of powdered milk
and other staples. Many questions remain. Some
close their eyes under water instinctively.
Imagination can create a sense of peril where
no real peril exists. Safety equipment tests
were necessarily imaginary; mechanisms in question
were wholly inaccessible. A journalist sinking
into the mud was told to toss his camera
to a colleague and hold extremely still. In this
sense, we are our own prisoners. Investigators
have salt in their hair and sand in their teeth.
The hotel pool is empty. Yet questions remain.
Barbeque billboards depict grinning pigs in aprons
and toques. Cleanup crews recover thousands
of plastic milk jugs from the shallows. Do these
images appeal to the death drive? Care should be
taken to ensure the highest possible reliability
from that valve. Thousands in affected communities
have been evicted and live in tents. Demonstrators
have prevented investigators from accessing
hotel stairwells. 1900: Rudolf Diesel
demonstrates an engine fueled by peanut oil
at the Paris World’s Fair. The Vietnamese owner
of Bad Bob’s bbq Buffet tells a journalist
she last drank powdered milk in a refugee camp
“a thousand years ago.” Items available only
in limited quantities are found in Appendix C.
Cleanup crews have stacked thousands of drums
of dispersant in hotel parking lots. Dominant
failure combinations for well control suggest
additional safety mechanism diversity
and redundancy provide additional reliability.
Bank of America will offer limited foreclosure
deferments in affected communities. Thousands
of years ago, a pronghorn ram slipped beneath
the surface of a tar pit, jerking its snout
for air. Recommendation: Live at inaccessible
elevations. Recommendation: Close your eyes.
Recommendation: Prevent access to the invisible.
Engineering reports noted required safety
mechanisms were unlikely to function yet were
required for safety’s sake. If the committee
may offer an analogy, a blind surgeon is dangerous,
an imaginary surgeon harmless. Still, questions
remain. BP’s 2010 Q1 replacement cost profit
was $5,598 million, compared with $2,387 million
a year ago, an increase of 135%. Unlimited
quantities of peanuts are available. However,
care must be taken to ensure continued high
reliability of the shuttle valve, since it is
extremely critical to the overall disconnect
operation. Phenomena not meant to be accessed
or imagined are found in Appendix E. Cleanup crews
are sometimes idled for lack of fuel. 1913: Diesel
found dead, drowned under suspicious circumstances.
The investigators’ hotel toilets won’t flush.
Midas turned everything he touched to gold.
In this sense, seabirds cloaked in oil are rich.
Cleanup crews live in tents and are provided
with limited quantities of barbeque and wear
white canvas jumpsuits like prisoners on furlough.
If the committee may offer an analogy, the death
drive resides at wholly dark depths of imagination
and fuel issues from a wound we’ve opened there.

Source: Poetry (October 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2010
 Joel  Brouwer

Biography

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, poet Joel Brouwer is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Syracuse University. Brouwer is the author of several collections of poetry, including And So (2009); Centuries (2003), a National Book Critics Circle Notable Book; and Exactly What Happened (1999), winner of the Larry Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also published several chapbooks. Brouwer has been . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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