August 2015, I wrote the poem Live Rust in response to the estimated 3 million gallons of contaminated water and sludge that flowed from Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado to Cement Creek and on to Animas River. July 2016, Live Rust was recorded and set to film in MOTHER LODE, a collaboration with filmmaker Kristin Tieche, artist Morgan Rua, and photographer Mor.
A sweeping yet short poem, Live Rust is my attempt to articulate this mother's rage for senseless violence and the squandering of individual lives and whole communities in order to maintain extravagant material possession, conserve species or landmarks of particular attraction, control communal means, seek peak experience, and more. I refuse unnecessary and obscene waste driven by a hunger fulfilled internally through spiritual connection, not externally through experience or material acquisition. Once fulfilled, the soul's hunger is more than satisfied with harvesting blackberries along the road, keeping a clean home, preparing food, and whatever else of pain or pleasure a day brings.
The Gold King Mine is one of near 500,000 abandoned hardrock mines that mark land now comprising the United States, with 12 Western states bearing the load. Though one might say costs have far outweighed benefits on the whole, many have benefited from the extraction and use of mined materials while laborers and local communities bear the heavy burden of extraction's immediate adverse health effects. I believe the mine breach to Animas River promises to begin universal acknowledgement of looming health threats to persons and communities, inspiring resolved action to safeguard harmful substances.
I want to see the mining era finish on a compassionate note. Let's keep what remains to be extracted underground, use frugally what has been pulled from the ground, and dismantle judgment in the case of past negligence that the common toxic legacy may be efficiently and effectively, if not quickly, addressed.
MOTHER LODE was filmed spontaneously one early evening in the Marin Headlands at Battery Spencer overlooking Golden Gate Bridge. Kristin and I thought this a fitting location given San Francisco's boom from small to big town during the California Gold Rush (1848–1855). And because we were there. Wind showed up and fiercely. Through much of the very cold film session I was focused on keeping my balance and holding onto the scarf in my hands.