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Monday, May 23, 2022


by Dick Altman

Jason Grostic's cows are tame and relaxed on his small Michigan farm. But after repeatedly testing his farm for PFAS chemicals in biosolids applied to his fields, state officials stopped Grostic from selling any meat or cattle from his farm. Feed grown on his farm is contaminated as well, and he's having to buy feed for the herd he can no longer sell. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton) —Progressive Farmer, May 9, 2022

After euthanizing several thousand contaminated cows, Art Schaap is losing not only a once-thriving dairy farm but a place where he and his family have lived for a quarter-century. He has no choice, he said, because the polluted runoff from Cannon Air Force Base that tainted the groundwater, soil and his livestock with cancer-causing chemicals has left Highland Dairy in Clovis [New Mexico] an empty shell… Schaap euthanized 3,665 dairy cows in phases over the past four years, when he first learned they’d become contaminated with PFAS from drinking polluted groundwater. PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Dubbed “forever chemicals” because they last indefinitely in the bloodstream, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, impaired immunity and cancer. Highland Dairy, a 3,500-acre farm, is a casualty in an ever-growing environmental and health issue as PFAS increasingly turn up in public drinking water, private wells and food. —Santa Fe New Mexican, May 19, 2022

Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over the moon.
Except the bovines,
all thirty-six hundred,
who couldn’t overcome
pollution’s deadly gravity.
Who weren’t invited
to your last barbecue.
Whose cream didn’t fortify
yesterday’s Frappuccino.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows who didn’t
jump over the moon,
died rife with PFAS,
“forever chemicals” etched
into their bloodstreams.
immunity all impacted.
Cancer lurking.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows who tanked up
on PFAS-ed groundwater.
Who drank the brew/runoff
of airbase firefighters practicing
with PFAS-laced foam.
The entire herd euthanized/
farm closed/soil toxic.
PFAS showing up
in public drinking water,
wells and food.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows’re all dead.
No place to rest/exit.
Oh, just this once.
change the flight plan.
Let them jump on the moon—
rather than over it.

Dick Altman writes in Santa Fe’s high, thin, magical air, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. The Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, Haunted Waters Press, and many others have published his work in the U.S. and abroad.  A poetry winner of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems, Voices in the Heart of Stones and Telling the Broken Sky.