Machteld Bouma


It started with some polymers
and no one did foresee
we’d come to a plastic Jesus
under a plastic Christmas tree.
With just some oil mankind produced
slippers, plates and coats,
wire, clips and plastic sheets,
tables, buttons, boats.
Came plastic tubes, came plastic cubes,
came plastic wings and strings,
then thread and cups and cutlery
and useless funny things.
Unsinkable and waterproof,
insulating and elastic,
transparent or opaque,
all is possible in plastic.
Plus plastic saves, eyes by
goggles, ears by plugs,
teeth by plastic guards and even
broken hearts with plastic hugs.
There’s helmets and hygienic gloves,
laboratory tubes for plastic tests,
safety rings and rescue lines,
airbags and bulletproof vests.
Children play with plastic toys
and kick at plastic balls,
feed plastic ponies plastic food,
adore their plastic dolls.
They make plastic little accidents,
creating plastic shards
of the plastic vehicles
that adults buy with plastic cards.

Some people now bend plastic knees
praying dearly for their lots,
making plastic offerings
to plastic statues of their gods.
Others decided the existence
of gods didn’t really matter:
whatever gods might have made,
we mankind could make better.
Plastic wood doesn’t creak,
plastic tarpaulin has no holes,
fleece is so much easier than wool
and there’s no rot in plastic poles.
Plastic flowers never wither,
plastic grass will not go dry,
plastic iron doesn’t rust
and plastic beasts don’t die.
As for bottles, plates and cups,
we no longer clean and mend:
disposables are cheap enough
to use and lose and spend.
So that’s what we do. Worldwide
a billion bottles every day,
and we seldom stop to look
at what we throw away.

It started with some polymers,
now there is a plastic flood,
plastic rivers, plastic seas,
even plastics in our blood.
Seabirds feed on plastic fish,
turtles feed on plastic bags,
wildlife chokes in plastic blisters,
deers entangle in plastic rags.
Plastic strings can amputate,
whales drown in plastic nets,
a lost balloon can suffocate:
there are many ugly plastic deaths.
So now we pray to plastic gods
to take the waste away,
but it seems that plastic things
will forever stay.
Burning leads to toxic smoke,
burying is no solution,
shredding leads to bits and beads:
still plastic, so no conclusion.

It started with some polymers,
now we’ve filled a globe with
manmade molecules that
nature just can’t cope with.
And once this world’s unsuitable
for life, maybe some god can
swap Adam and Eve
for Barbie and Ken.
With them the world is better off,
as non multiplying plastic pieces:
they cannot conceive, not even
a little plastic baby Jesus.

Machteld Bouma

Moeder Aarde

We kraken haar, breken en steken haar.
We schuren, schenden en schaden haar.
We zuigen haar leeg en pompen haar vol,
prikken haar, branden en kwetsen haar,
vervuilen, verstikken, injecteren,
onteren, infecteren en negeren
haar noodkreet totaal.