Awab El Ghissassi
Vestal, NY


In spite of this poem's serious subject matter, "Pollution" is enjoyable in its use of unexpected rhyme and clever couplets to caution the reader about the dangers of pollution. The speaker does not succumb to a 'doom and gloom' tone, but employs humor as his or her technique - perhaps a more effective vehicle to deliver the message.

The title and first six lines present the topic and the poet's approach in dealing with it. The first line gives us an incorrect supposition: "Mother earth's biggest problem is caused by evolution," then corrects it in the second line: "Good guess! It is pollution." We trust the speaker in the first line, then he or she happily corrects us in the second; both lines set the reader up for the clever juxtaposition that follows. The next four lines are skillful in their treatment of pollution:

Instead of planting trees,
They are chopped down and replaced by factories.
They couldn't be saved even by a LORAX,
This hurts and harms our thorax.

The poet's use of rhyme is surprising and effective, especially "trees" and factories." And how many young poets would use the idea of the Lorax - the defender of trees in Dr. Suess's The Lorax children's book, since he "speaks for the trees, because the trees have no tongues" - and rhyme it with "thorax"?

The following lines continue this enjoyable - and effective - discussion of pollution. The speaker avers that even though "trees release oxygen into the air," it is modern cars that "dispense smoke that can even harm a bear." This pollution puts "holes in the ozone" that the speaker claims will "make us like firefighters, breathing from a cone." The speaker sounds an alarm for the life-threatening reduction of oxygen that causes our "beloved planet a lot of harm / like losing a precious charm." Water pollution is also handled: "Beautiful and healthy creatures might never hatch / in the Pacific Ocean's Garbage Patch." The unexpected play on words of "garbage patch" instead of 'garden patch' is engaging.

The end of the poem summarizes the Earth's pollution dilemma. In another skillful play on words, the speaker acknowledges that these three new R's, "Reduce, Recycle and Reuse," are encouraged - but that they also produce "too many discussions and argues." Note the unexpected transformation of the verb "argues" into a noun in order to rhyme with "reuse." The end of the poem states, "So far there has been no solution / to this very dangerous problem which is pollution!"

As in Dr. Seuss, humor is used in "Pollution" to discuss and explain a serious message. With inventive use of language and rhyme, the poem addresses its important subject matter with care.

Thank you for the privilege of reading your work!

Marie Kane
Final Judge, Sarah Mook Poetry Contest