irreplaceable, a 1700 line praise poem in the making...

irreplaceable will become at least a 1700 line poem, a chorus of praise swelling with love for our Great Salt Lake. The size of this poem is a call for Great Salt Lake's full restoration. By some reports, 1700 square miles would be the size of the lake in an average water year. There is scientific debate about this number, with some estimates closer to 2100 square miles. If the poem flows past 1700 lines, so be it!  The poem is a community prayer on behalf of this hemispherically essential ecosystem.

Please add your own details in the comments. Your lines will eventually flow into the poem. There are 95 different voices in this poem thus far.


praise bright green grass on the edge of saline water
praise raindrops falling gently
praise the halo of brine flies
praise eared grebes
praise muted desert tones fading into each other
gradient yellows and greens, a reminder of life
praise boats drifting as birds follow
praise the reverence of the duck hunter,
a promise of connecting for shared purpose
praise buoyancy
praise white pelicans flowing through brisk desert wind
seven in formation
a jet above
flying overhead to say hello
a lake of life, a lake of flight
salty yes, lifeless no

praise the sunset sliver of pink
praise memories of calamine and salt-caked feet
praise selenite crystals
drawn from soft sodium clay
praise combing the shore for micro trash
on a soggy saturday
praise the salty blood of the lake
praise the salty water
where my desert-raised father learned to sail
praise spiraling lava rock
praise the corklike body afloat
praise the smell of life recycling
praise microbes detoxifying, restoring balance
praise the oolites on her shores
praise sea monkeys!

praise snowy plover, pelican, and sandpiper
descending in clouds
praise watery sanctuary
bald eagle, phalarope, and grebes
praise wild and the life it breathes

praise dawn on the causeway
a rusty coyote splashing through
rounding the corner, antelope island opens to view
praise the startling vista

praise distant calm from the highway
praise space for bison to thrive
praise wild desolation so close to home
praise ancient world in present day

praise winter ski trips with friends
praise salty foam whipping up at rozel point
praise ten thousand avocets with rusty heads
praise imagination, praise billions of brine shrimp

praise tornadoes of midges
praise hopper salt crystals
plucked from lakebed like so many teeth
praise floating between sky and sky

praise her salty kiss burning like fire on the horizon
appalled by flies, enthralled by sunset
grassy slopes grace us, riding alongside
praise the midnight bicycle ride

praise the color explosion at days end
white foam, watery pastiche, changing blues, 

depending on where you stand
praise orange, in sky and on water

praise the days when the water is its pinkest
salt crystals sparkle at a pale blue sky
praise sage green with deep maroon
silhouettes against gradient colors

the site of gulls without an ocean,
in the desert fighting for fries
i will miss the funky smell
praise slow, salty undulations

i will miss the feel of salt
no lake, no lake effect snow,
no snow, no winters, no water
praise hollowing waves of sorrow

praise feeling weight in damp smash
praise the place out past the railroad
the place that saved me in 2020
where the water is sometimes pink

praise ripples, praise stillness
praise kit carson’s cross
praise moments spent lost
praise sun on salt, praise sky

praise eared grebes
with golden feathers
and scarlet eyes
praise eared grebes!

praise the flight of the migratory
praise rest for birds and earth
praise a solitary mammoth tooth
caught between time and depth

praise children marveling at brine shrimp
praise bringing a friend for a first visit
praise people swimming
praise the job of a lake girl

praise the drive to the jetty
the jetty, pink and i can’t believe it
knee deep in the waters of Smithson’s spiral,
praise the illuminated salty sculpture

how would it be for the spiral
to slip under the waves
and sleep again?
praise layers of time

praise a picnic with two ninety year-old women
no-see-ums defending the beaches
swirled clouds mimic water ripples
praise contemplating stars from buffalo point

praise sunsets overlooking saltair,
more impressive than the show inside
praise floating on a summer day in ’72,
feeling like a pretzel after drying

praise learning and teaching a unique ecosystem
kids laugh when i tell them the water will sting their eyes
feeling the planet’s pulse
forms and cures loneliness

praise home, the home i am made of—
praise reflections of mackerel sky
vast expanses, mirror-smooth
feel alone and connected at the same time

praise the great blue heron
taking off and flying through reeds
praise capturing the amber eye of an egret
through a cloud of thousands of gnats

praise the panoramic view from frary peak
praise joy on the shores of stansbury
praise gazing at the intense blue
golden grasses blowing in symphony

praise the texture of pickle grass
praise the smell of rainfall, stinky, fresh
praise briny socks and briny smiles
praise senses scrubbed raw

praise visiting the lake with my mother
memorias com o meu pai
praise the ever mutable backdrop of childhood
visit even when you are afraid

bear witness even when you are afraid
how can water be so heavy?
the lake, my sister, lives in my body,
carries my weight

Part 1: lines 1-16 reaped at Farmington Bay Refuge from derek, chandler, denise, cleve, & nan
Part 2: lines 17-36: gathered on Instagram from stef.ani_e, marybethjclark, nihonbi, 
honoringthejourney, scott.perry.984, international_acrobat, lizbogus, compassionate.wisdom, jmicweber, ninir485
Part 3: lines 37-137: gathered from 80 individual attendees at the Alfred Lambourne program presented by Friends of Great Salt Lake on November 5, 2021

1. Gather up details, experiences, and memories from folks who have something specific to share about Great Salt Lake.
2. Invite everyone to participate.
3. Weave words into sections as they arrive. Build sections that can be shared as complete poems.
4. Remove words, rearrange phrases, and alter verb tense if necessary.
5. Keep refrains such as praise grebes in the poem when coming from various voices.
6. Keep every voice in the poem.
7. Last but not least, frequently add the word praise.


1 comment

  • Praise the place of fourth grade field trips, the island by the Great Lake. Praise a cut knee on big rocks and the first place I saw a Bison. Praise the place we took our wedding photos and the beautiful sky over her while we kissed under the stars. Praise my children playing in the sand and even the smell of them after.

    Deandra 04 November 2021 Deandra
    Comment Link

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.