Poem: Inside Job

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by Karina Lutz

He worked at a nuclear power plant
and secretly hated his work,
though no one was able to tell
(like the serial killer who “seemed like a nice
enough guy, kinda quiet”),
certainly not the guys and wives at the country club,
against whom he always argued defense,
half high, around the small punctuation
of ice in glasses, glasses half empty of the ghost
of juniper and tonic.

                                        But at some invisible point,
he had half fallen for one of
the hippies at the gate
                                         he drove past every morning
and evening, as she held vigil with her long, curly hair,
her absurd herbs & feathers to stop
nuclear power & weapons,
as if.

His muttering stopped inaudibly at that point,
like a river-crossing in winter
(the water’s movement under a foot of ice),
the solidity silent and shoe-shushed over.

Nothing then was the same, except everything
on the outside. The spent fuel rods still needed
monitoring, as they would for the next eon,
by some beings he dared not imagine.

New fuel rods still needed, it seemed, to be lowered
into place, the fail safes engaged,
the protocols observed. But he was able to discover
and plot more reasons to delay the lowering, and
to shut down the plant more often
                                                              until the profit margin shrank
to a shadow of its former self, and one day, one fine day,
he worked his way out of the part of the job he’d grown to hate most:
the loading of fresh fuel, the birth of the next quasi-eternity,
the setting in motion work for future generations,
work that will be for no good at all, just dangerous drudgery,
only to have served power
to the hair dryers and factories and Xboxes
the future’s ghosts will have once used, back in their day,

our day.



Karina Lutz is a workshop leader, teacher, and sustainable energy activist. She helped found and run People’s Power & Light, a sustainable energy nonprofit. She has been instrumental in passage of environmental legislation in Rhode Island, thwarting a proposed megaport in Narragansett Bay, and rewilding wetlands along the Blackstone River.

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  1. Pingback: Sometimes civil disobedience seeks no publicity | poetry for The Great Turning

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