The Gulf

The oil pluming into the Gulf of Mexico has been too horrifying, too sad, and too confusing to write about.  It is easy for some to assign blame depending on their political predilection, but I keep returning to myself, mindlessly pumping gas at $3/gallon, with no thought to the workers, the executives, or the regulatory structure that brings it to my car.

The ‘gulf’ is between us and the source of our energy.  Oil is ‘capital’ energy – finite and dirty at both ends; wind and solar are ‘income’ energies – they don’t get used up in the process of capturing them.

Here’s the first stanza of a poem I wrote about ‘conservative values’: (for the whole poem, Votive, a bit dated now in the era of Obama, go to:


I would vote for a conservative, my friend, if I could find one.

A conservative would be about conserving something, wouldn’t he?

Conserving oil, for starters – that sticky goop in the earth

That no one was impressed with until the right whales ran out.

I wish there’d been some conservatives then

As we flensed huge mammals for a smokeless flame.

It’s not over til the fat lady sings.

Did we leave one to sing us through our curtain call?

As the whales got rarer and their oil got dearer

Refined petroleum came within reach.

In one short, hard century we drilled and flamed

Two billion years of accumulated fuel.

Greased the rails

At about 4% efficiency.

So that much of the heat and long tons of carbon

Escaped to confuse the self-adjustment of the earth.

A conservative approves of self-regulation,

Or so I thought. Or does he not?

It cost the sun a million bucks –

That’s today’s dollars, my friend –

To press each barrel of this organic wine.

We’ve been on a drinking spree.

A conservative worth his salt, and worth my votes

Would see the log, not pick at motes

Would sober up, contain our mirth

Would shore up oil for all he’s worth

So our grandchildren will not say to us,

“You used essence of dinosaur, precious oil

To push just you and tons of metal

Around those ‘roads’ you love so much?”

As we say to our grandparents,

“You did fatal liposuction

On an intelligent fellow creature

To light your bleedin’ houses?”


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