Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Oil," a timely poem by Chris August


America, don't we love like oil?
Don't our slippery arms
Pave the pores of those who need us?
Don't we suffocate with our embrace?

Hasn't our sheen of pink slips
And half-hearted hand outs
Sucked the air from blue collared lungs?
Aren't cardboard boxes as porous
As dollar bills?

Don't we infiltrate?
Isn't our heart amorphous?
Aren't we a slow build
And a tight grip?

Don't countless dumb animals
Struggle their way from our grip?
Doesn't Europe's fur still glisten
From the crude of our aid?
Doesn't the Middle East smell like us?

Aren't we just like oil?
Is it any surprise when it leaks from our bowels
Into once pristine oceans
Don't we muddy the waters?

Don't we smear our babies' asses
With petroleum jelly,
Don't we air commercials for coal

Isn't oil us?
Isn't it slippery
But insistently vital,
Isn't it the only black thing
We're not afraid of?

Isn't it us?
Isn't it symbolic how it slips out,
How it once was life,
How we need it,
How it kills us?

Don't we love symbolism?
A great white nation
With no control of dark things,
Dirty things, moving things

Isn't it what we know?
Isn't it what believe in?
Two press conferences too late,
A wellspring of good intentions
Strangling the seascape,
Isn't it angry,
Isn't it unstoppable,
Isn't it us?

-Chris August

Used by permission.

Chris August is a writer and special educator from Baltimore, Maryland. He has been a part of the national poetry slam community since 2002. In that time, he has been ranked among the top ten performance poets in the world and has performed and competed across the country. He is the author of several self published collections of poetry.

August was a featured opening performer at 'Howl' in the City, a performance of Allen Ginsberg's seminal poem "Howl" by Anne Waldman on July 23rd and 24th, 2010. Cosponsored by Split This Rock and Busboys and Poets.

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