Pacifist Ocean

The Pacifist Ocean

4 June 2015

"Healthy oceans, healthy planet"

[A spoken word poetry special]

8 June is World Oceans Day and the theme for 2015 is, “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”, with a specific focus on plastic pollution. Even squeaky-clean Singapore is not immune to the denigration of our water systems by the evil plastic (insert brand name here: Evian, Ice Mountain, Coca-Cola, Heaven & Earth Green Tea etc etc etc) bottle.

Plastic pollution aside, a balanced and robust (ergo, healthy) ocean eco-system makes for a healthy ocean.

Cue: Marine Conservation   

Whither the shark finning?

The Dorsal Effect is one such marine conservation organisation. Founded by a plucky former schoolteacher from Singapore, it works to create a sustainable and alternative livelihood through eco-tourism for shark fishermen in Lombok, Indonesia. This is not an easy task given that as many as 400 sharks are killed every day, their carcasses thrown overboard and their fins bound for Chinese dinner tables in eateries - and homes - across Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

Littering, toxic waste dumping, over-fishing and many other ills are the sickness of Man. But, what Man doesn’t realise is that the ocean wants no part in that sickness.

Because it is, a “Pacifist Ocean”.

Pacifist Ocean

I am that vast vault of calm, the endless continent; congeries of unmapped roads.
I roll slow, my breakers dance over time.
I am the middle of the tale, the centre that holds no trouble,
I bind beginnings and ends together.

But you,
you dock darkness in my inlets; your warships roll heedless from ports.
Depth charges bobble out of tune with the tide,
your submarines are strange fish glowing beneath the floes.

You carve my waters with boundaries and badlands,
you spill your oily guts, bludgeon me with plastic cities riding on the waves.
You spear dolphins in blood-soaked bays, spread nets,
take my shoals with the need of greed,
but listen!

I never signed up for this war.”

“There are exactly three kraken left in my deep, all vegetarian.
The currents argue all the time, but they won’t storm out of their channel.
The seahorses ride, harmless knights around coral castles.
Lemmings don‘t leap into my waters, Disney made that myth,
flinging them off turntables from a cliff; that’s how they make records.

Now you want to cry me a river?
Listen, my tears cause tsunamis, God help if I sneeze.
Whirlpools? That‘s me scratching an itch.
Typhoons are my way of uncurling the knots in Neptune’s beard.
Don’t you listen to seashells? I stream all my love songs on them.”

“I have held back my unholy ghosts against you, never baptized,
how they gargle in their sea chests, humming on unnamed frequencies
for locks of unreclaimed land, songs of river and meadow.

I will not fight you.
I take pleasure in the sun slipping into the maw of my horizon.
I inspire your poets, your lovers, your painters.
I am roar and silence, your deep mystery.
If you should fling planes into me, I will not tell a soul.”

“Stop going to war over me.

I am the pacifist ocean, let me rest, in peace.”


1. The Dorsal Effect

2. World Oceans Day:

3. Photos: Andrew Lim, The Dorsal Effect, Marc Nair

4. “Pacifist Ocean“ was written by Marc Nair as a spoken word piece. It has been published in his book, “The Poet of Unlove” (2015). For more on Marc’s poetry: