Transmission lines at sunset

One Poem by Isaiah Yonah Back-Gaal

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Public Utilities Commission Case 23323EL550 Public Hearing

Please state your name and occupation for the record. Mourning dove, email writer. Please state your name and occupation for the record. Mastodon, mother of two, retired widow returning to work. Can you tell me why you’re here today? We caught the tailwinds of a whisper. Can you tell me why you’re here today? The American Electric Power Company has proposed to raise its rates. Can you tell me why you’re here today? Last year the CEO made $16 million. The CEO made $16 million last year. Can you tell me why you’re here today? This type of utility is called a regional monopoly. A proposed rate hike on top of a rate hike is called a rider. A pile of bones in the basement is called a fossil. Coal is called a fossil fuel. Can you tell me why you’re here today? Ohio residents paid to bailout four coal plants in the Ohio Valley. Ohio residents are still paying. And how does that make you feel? A window slit in the concrete. And how does that make you feel? An arrow shot through a hole in a castle. Through which to see out of and not be seen. And how does that make you feel? CEO’s $16 million salary, last year. Current of charged electrons. What are you asking for? To find the power bill without a flashlight. What are you asking for? Community aggregated clean energy. Wind from Illinois. Sun from Indiana. Skeleton of the mastodon waiting in the dark. And how does that make you feel? 373,065 shut offs. 4 billion tons of coal. Highest rates of cancer. Can you tell me why you’re here today? A fossil is a once-living thing. A fossil is the trace, remains, impression, memory. Can you state your name and occupation for the record? Husband, tending to the garden. Can you state your name and occupation for the record? Coalition, raising its trunk. And how does that make you feel? $700 million for foliage removal. And how does that make you feel? I feel local news. I feel witness. I feel financial burden. I feel bare parking lot in the blazing sun. I feel it’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

 

 

This is the second of 11 contributions to the Climate Stories in Action series, in partnership with the Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University. The series runs from late May through early August 2024.

 

Isaiah Yonah Back-GaalIsaiah Yonah Back-Gaal is a queer poet, climate justice organizer, and drag performer. They are currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at The Ohio State University and managing editor of The Journal. Their work can be found in or is forthcoming in Seventh Wave Magazine, Ghost City Review, and Copper Nickel and has received support from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Their poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net.

Header photo by Monika, courtesy Pixabay.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.