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Poet Asks, ‘Does Everything Depend Upon the Price of Oil?’ (Audio)

Posted on Jan 18, 2017


Michael Foley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As a new climate change-denying administration looms, poet Carolyne Wright reminds readers about the blood and tears shed over petroleum for so many years. Read and listen to Wright’s powerful ghazal, a form that in and of itself locates us in one of the regions most affected by American thirst for oil.

Photo of the poet
Carolyne Wright reads her poem "Fossil Fuels Ghazal." [Poet portrait by James Parrott.]

(3.5 MB)

Fossil Fuels Ghazal

Caroylne Wright

                “Let’s give earth time enough to tell the whole truth.”
                    —Mahmoud Darwish

Does everything depend upon the price of oil?
How much will we consumers spend upon the price of oil?

How many economists must we call
to change a light bulb or expound upon the price of oil?

Whose fortunes rise, whose fortunes fall
when cartels get their hands upon the price of oil?

Shaherazad spun her life’s thread, tale by tale,
where a thousand nights’ lamps flamed upon the price of oil.

Mad Ahab went down raging with the Great White Whale
whose cool, spermaceti-bathed brain turned upon the price of oil.

Soothsayers of the future!  Speak to us now—tell
which nations will expand upon the price of oil.

The Baghdad Caliphate collapsed.  The true heir?  Will
he touch his forehead to the sand upon the price of oil?

Routed from Kuwait, the crazed fake-general
torched the wells:  Hell’s wand upon the price of oil.

Our Babel’s towers toppled, our flaming chariots fell
into 9/11’s pall—they met their ends upon the price of oil.

No photos of the War Department’s burning wall?
No comment: nothing to amend upon the price of oil.

No Blood for Oil! Cries rose from every capital
before the rockets’ red glare could land upon the price of oil.

The hunt for weapons? Mushroom clouds? Were mobile
labs or yellow cake ever found upon the price of oil?

Doctors of truth! Why do you spin like dervishes, hurl
distracting repetends upon the price of oil?

Which leaders lie, which leaders smile,
and fix the facts around the price of oil?

Who prophesies and who denies the clouds shall
part, the Son of Man descend upon the price of oil?

Shall we hurry up the Last Days?  Shall the final
trumpets sound upon the price of oil?

Darwish wrote, “Let’s give earth time enough to tell
the whole truth”—if truth not bend upon the price of oil

Darwish and Bly, Carruth and Dove, Forché, Hamill, Wright and Bell . . .
What poet doesn’t want these wars to end upon the price of oil?

Carolyne Wright’s most recent book is “Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace,” published in Lost Horse Press’ Human Rights Series (2015); it is the recipient of ten Pushcart Prize nominations and is a finalist in the Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards. Wright’s other volumes of poetry include “Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire” (Eastern Washington UP/Lynx House Books), “A Change of Maps” (Lost Horse Press) and “Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene” (Turning Point Books).

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Truthdig will publish poems that offer insight into current events and sociopolitical themes relevant to today’s world. From entries across the nation, Truthdig staff will select poems based on both their artistic qualities as well as the social issues they discuss. To read our guidelines and submit a poem for our consideration, click here.

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