Oil, a declamatory poem

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Oil, a declamatory poem

Now let me speak of oil.

As censers swing we praise

The oil of gladness, flowing down on Aaron's beard

Oil of healing, oil of consecration

Chrism of salvation,

Fragrant, nourishing oil

Gift of the sacred olive tree

Ancient blessing for humankind,

Oil that feeds, oil that makes supple,

Oil that nurtures civilization.


Today I sing of another oil,

Oil black, oil sticky, oil spreading, oil foul of smell

Not pressed from fruit or seed

But forced from bowels of earth.

Oil that powers cars and lorries, tanks and tankers

B52 bombers, Falcon rocket launchers,

intercontinental ballistic missiles,

Oil that fuelled Enola Gay.

Deepwater Horizon oil

Exxon Valdez oil, Amoco Cadiz oil

Torrey Canyon oil.

Oil that stains Peruvian Amazon

Oil that poisons Niger Delta

Oil that blackens beaches

Oil that kills gull, pelican, loon,

Penguin, puffin, grebe, and otter.


Oil, the source of ethylene, propylene

Benzene, toluene, butadiene,

Parathion, sarin, DDT.

Oil from which we make paints, adhesives,

Plastics, asphalt, carpeting, nylon.

Oil, bringing a world of electronics,

Panty hose, shiny toys from China;

Of children choking to death in Bhophal,

Dying foaming at the mouth in Khan Sheykhoun,

Of poisoned eagles perishing in fields

And floating islands of plastic trash.


Oil for which millions toil

Oil for which millions die.

Oil by which we fight our wars

Oil for which we fight our wars.

Four billion metric tons a year!


Oil the combustible!

Oil, emitter of heat trapping gases

Ice caps melting

Cities flooding,

Forests burning

Crops and cattle dying.

Oil that destroys trees, rivers, oceans

Villages, tribes, homes and encampments.

Oil for whose sake the bombs rain down!

O oil of blackness, oil death-dealing,

Oil which holds us in your thrall!


How long, O oil, will your rigs, your wells, your refineries,

Your pipelines snaking through tribal lands,

Your smoke-filled skies, your dark satanic mills hold sway?

Will we follow you to the end of civilization?

Arise, warriors of the sun, the wind, the water

Mni wiconi, water is life.

Let us raise our swords of truth for life, for love

Let us return to the oil of blessing

To the sheltering olive grove.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Alakananda Ma published on August 18, 2018 10:30 PM.

    An Inconvenient Sequel--poetic response was the previous entry in this blog.

    From Tyrant's Might to Human Rights: Alakananda Ma's 2019 New Year's Letter is the next entry in this blog.

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