WWP Poem #11: Oil

Revised 7/20/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson, except for lines in italics in the penultimate stanza, which are © 1967 The Doors. All Rights Reserved on material by N. Nicholson

This poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt #11: Automatic for the Poetry. In this prompt, I asked poets to try some automatic writing, a Surrealistic technique in which you clear your mind, enter a “receptive” frame of mind, and then begin writing — do not stop, do not edit as you write. You were to pick a pre-determined letter — mine was ‘f’ — and if you got stuck, jump down a line and begin your next sentence with that letter (I think in my case, that might partially explain my frequent use of the work “fuck”). I was a little surprised at what was hanging out in my subconscious, but it proves that the oil spill still weighs heavy on our minds.

The cleaned up version appears first. The original version appears below. I hope you enjoyed reading this poem.


when the box breaks under the weight of moonbeams I fall in
far to the distance light
fell the trees around your head
feed the trees around your head when the levee breaks southern death begins to call, there ain’t no kind of death like water
forget what you’ve heard about water being life
fish are dying in black waters children are dying of black waters
from the fronds of palm leaves we see the distant black death coming the fires are raging on consuming sky like it belongs to them when they belong to the rumble of the belly of the earth dead and ancient dinosaur bones become water there’s a reason they stay buried we burn them to stay warm at night how do you explain apocalypses from the arms of a god that look like our own
fuck the media, they don’t know nothing
fuck the politicians, they sit on their hands and congratulate us for our concern with steamroller flat slaps like giant billboards congratulating their private envy upside their fucking heads
fuck the f-word we need something stronger than this to swallow our rage to bring oil into rage, rage into fire while birds are crying higher than Heaven’s gates
fuck you
if you don’t make a difference
if you just say too bad and then turn off the tv and sleep, cause that’s what they want
a black liquid noose around our necks while the planet is dying
Gaia don’t drink oil
birth new death through her stomach
when her water breaks it will be full of crude
this is what rape looks like, she bleeds black when she is done
fuck you
if you don’t do anything at all if all you do is scream at the politicians
where is your pen, where is your sword, where is your fucking nerve
forget that we are supposed to whisper, this is the time to scream
quit donning Thomas Jefferson wigs, quit pretending like you know what Paul Revere’s heart looked like
saving our country ain’t about putting on wigs and hose and waving signs
saving our country is dipping your hands into dirty water
looking up at the woman who bled it and promising to heal her
promising to cover the large landmark of shame, a green and yellow sun shaped birthmark that somebody slapped up between her thighs and called conquest
what have they done to the earth
fuck you if you don’t make a difference
what have they done to our fair sister
fuck you if you think this woman will last forever
under the weight of a million blacked-out suns that we disemboweled just for their oil
fuck you
we have the knives, my friend
tell us why we should put them down

First draft written 7/15/10

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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11 Responses to WWP Poem #11: Oil

  1. brenda w says:

    The anger is so pointed in this piece, yet every word rings true for me. As I read it I found myself carried by your rage. Gorgeous, absolutely. This reader is damn pleased that you weren’t done writing about the Gulf. Strong emotions this eloquently expressed should be shared and passed around. Exquisite piece!

  2. rob kistner says:

    Powerful, potent, poignant, and something which should be read aloud for all to hear… and I liked both the versions for different reasons – the original was raw and visceral and the edited version very on point… well written…


  3. Very intense and profound, I must say!

    like an automata

  4. pamela says:

    Nicole this gave me chills reading it! It is a poignant poem and should be read out loud so that people may hear your voice in this matter.

  5. Mary says:

    Nicole, a powerful poem. Some ideas cannot be cleaned up! I agree about politicians in this area. You can’t trust the words of either.

  6. Love the energy of your poem. Almost makes me embarrassed to be using such a fluffy piece here….

    Your emotions are rock solid. Fantastic.

  7. Stan Ski says:

    Don’t try to cap that anger. This is exactly how a lot of people feel about those to blame, not only for what happened, but for what was done about it, how long it’s taking etc. et. etc.

  8. Linda Goin says:

    As angry as I’ve been about the Gulf and the oil, and as much as it has affected my daughter’s family and us all, I still was ashamed after reading your poem…like I still haven’t done enough (I did purchase respirators for a family of three), like I haven’t said enough (about ten poems about the Gulf) and like I haven’t berated enough (educating others, screaming at senators). It’s not enough. It will never be enough for what has happened. But, the rape is ongoing, in places we don’t even know about…the fracking, the drilling, the haphazard cutting corners, the deaths…are ongoing. If everyone on the planet screamed “NO” at one time, would that work? This was a raw powerful voice in both the raw version and edited piece. You have spoken for Gaia, Nicole.

  9. neil reid says:

    Good for not being polite. There’s a whole level of pain not expressed (well, where few will look, or say, or feel, or wants to know).

    Thing about Gaia is, it’s not about us, it’s about life. And Gaia’s fine if we’re gone, there’s plenty more ready for a chance. Gaia won’t mind at all, but we will.

    Thanks for including both process versions. There’s something most right in each.

  10. wayne says:

    nicely done Nicole……if any oil gets on my ravens……we will blow BP UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

  11. Pingback: It Will Not Stop « Raven's Wing Poetry

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