When the Exxon Valdez spilled her guts
Off Alaska’s pristine shore
She belched black shame, spewing bitter blam
For the Faceless to ignore;
But the Valdez trull with her single hull
Wasn’t special or unique —
It was just bad luck that the thing got stuck, To hear the Faceless speak…
Where oil slicks spread the birds are dead –
Their feathers destroyed by tar;
The seals are gone; no salmon spawn
Where the thick, black globules are;
No whales sound there; no hungry bear
Will set foot on a black ice floe
To hunt for food in a sea of crude
That smothers the life below.
When you drive again through the mountain chain
That makes B.C. so fair,
Look up in awe at the Mackinaw made of trees
That the mountains wear;
And you might take note that the once-thick coat
Is showing wear and tear;
It still looks fine, but the holes are sign
That the Faceless Ones are there.
When the hills are bare, there’ll be no soil there
For trees to fasten on;
Just plain, raw rock. The bright woodcock
Will be vanished; dead and gone.
There’ll be no life there for the grizzly bear;
Neither cougar nor wolf will prowl;
No sign of flight through the woods at night
Will signal the hunting owl.
There’s blood in the ooze from the tankers’ screws
There’s blood in the chain saw’s teeth;
There’s dread in the thread of the steel cat’s tread
The torn earth screams beneath;
There’s the breath of death in the pipeline’s path
And the strip mine’s open sore;
And the pulp mills sweat a cold, poisoned threat
To our children. we can’t ignore!
There’s contaminated salmon and poisoned fish
We’ve been told are safe to eat,
And, if caught outside of the grim Red Tide,
They say mussels can still taste sweet.
A drop in the ocean is just a drop,
But its meaning has changed today
When one toxic drop has the power to stop
A migrating whale, midway
These are the gifts of the Faceless Ones,
The ones who will swear, “Not I!”
As they defend to the tasteless end
Their plight and their right to ply.
They’ll swear you threaten their livelihood;
That your ignorance is plain;
While, all the time, they produce the slime
That the papers call Acid Rain.
And they’ll tell you that Pontius Pilate’s dead;
That his days, and his ways, are gone …
Did he wash his hands of the Empire’s plans
For the cedars of Lebanon?
They cut and they squandered the forests there,
And they shipped the lumber home,
And the desert sands of the Arab lands
Are the legacy of Rome …
We must take aim at the Faceless Ones
Though they’re always hard to find;
They take no blame, but they’re all the same,
The blind who lead the blind.
They sit, in power, in ivory towers
And decree how we live our lives;
They throw us bones and honing stones
But they hold the long, sharp knives.
They’ll take no blame for the cancer flames
That pour through the ozone holes;
They’ll hear no tales about dying whales
Or ice melting at the Poles;
They’ll disown Bhapal and the Love Canal
And Chernobyl’s grim despair;
And they’ll wash their hands of the blasted lands
That lie barren, and bleak, and bare.
We must stand up to the Faceless Ones,
The men who control the winds;
The winds of power, and the winds of war
The fiscal, blizzard winds;
The winds that soar and the winds that roar
And the winds that destroy the trees;
We must make them see that the winds of change
Can be stronger than all of these!
But we might just find that the Faceless kind
Look a lot like you and me,
‘Though they’re ill-defined … there are none so blind
As those who will not see …
And so, when the trace of the shadowy face
You’re straining to see has grown,
Don’t stand and stare if the features there
Are very much like your own,
For we, ourselves, are the Faceless Ones
Though we might find that uncouth …
We’ve grown too fond of the easy life
In our hunt for Eternal Youth.
We’ve grown accustomed to reaching out
For whatever we want, right now,
Never stopping to think that you just can’t drink
Fresh milk, once you’ve killed your cow…
So we cut down the forests and foul the air
And pour filth in our rivers and streams.
Polluting the oceans, we go through the motions
Of calling for grandiose schemes
To save the rain forests and restore the ozone,
And put the world back in the pink.
But the thing we won’t do, is admit that it’s true
That we’d all better slow down and think!