Flare Stacks in Full Bloom is a collection of eco-feminist poetry set in southeast Texas. This region, sometimes called “Cancer Alley,” is home to the nation’s largest oil refinery. It has also been on the front lines of climate disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, the historic flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda, and just last year, Hurricanes Laura and Delta. It’s a region that feels the tension of climate change: economically, it is dependent on the oil industry, the same industry that poisons its citizens and threatens its lands existence as sea levels rise. Flare Stacks in Full Bloom explores this tension through a chronicle of Hurricane Harvey—before, during, and after the storm, through formal poetry (sonnets, villanelles, and blank verse narratives).
The Margaret Lea Houston Series
from "Flare Stack Eden"
You smell it like a snake, from miles away—
this Eden made of benzene, naphthalene
and gasoline. The smokestack garden never
rests. It works through day and night, like any
forest does. It turns the blood of earth
into the fuel that makes it sing this dusk
chorus of whistles, bells, and whooshing flame.
You look up, imagining these towers
as tupelo trees that scrape the sky.
All around you, pipelines form a labyrinth,
meandering like streams for endless miles.
The whistle blows like Bachman’s sparrow’s song,
beckons your return as you slip on
your work boots once again to toil through
the nightshift, promising a world of green.
Suddenly, a flare stack blooms as quickly
as a burst of evening primrose, fills
the sky with something almost beautiful
in vibrant hues of gold and cherry red.
Standing at the gate in awe, you breathe,
tasting the awful cost of paradise.
About the Author
Published by Texas Review Press