Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Just in From the Tar Sands

This Just In From the Tar Sands

They are saying smugly that we now have the clean oil
We, of the land that last year had to show the world
Our tailings ponds with hundred of water fowl so oil-coated
They looked nothing like the species of ducks or birds
They actually were and everything like the tragic loss of life
They were becoming; the world was critical as it wept with
Those of us who were heartsick at big oil companies who
Tried to make light of this – after all, it was an ‘accident’
And they had tried to plan the ponds to be where birds
Weren’t but had miss-planned – who knew the migratory
Patterns were changing? Indeed – who knows anything?

Who has any knowledge at all about all these things:
About the poisoned waters in our north and the decline
Of all the indigenous plants, animals and people – let’s not
Forget the people – even though every report done by oil
Companies and governments alike would like to do just that-
Forget the people that is – how about the doctor in Fort Chip
Who dared mention he noticed a higher than normal incidence
Of a rare cancer there? That’s all – he just mentioned that
And, suddenly he was an alarmist, he was threatened by the
Very board that licensed him, told he would be sanctioned by
Them, that he would no longer be able to practise medicine
If he didn’t hush – why didn’t they just duct-tape his mouth?

The harassment grew so intimidating that he and his wife
Finally fled the small native community and moved across
The country to the Maritimes but, he felt so bad about abandoning
The many sick he was serving in Fort Chip – he started seeing
Them via teleconferences and flying in on a regular basis to keep
Up their care – all the while fighting his ridiculous court-case
As the alarmist who the medical board was taking to task;
He was eventually cleared of all charges of course, but little
Noise was made of this – very little noise at all – no, it was more
Important to undermine him loudly, not to put things to rights.

And now, with that dreadful oil-spill off the coast of the USA
There are actually people in Texas North as many of us have
Come to think of Alberta, because of the way oil is worshipped
Here—there are people here who really are going about saying
With the self-righteous fervour of televangelists —
“Well, who has the dirty oil now, huh? Looks like getting the oil out
of the ground is the wiser choice after all …” — completely ignoring
The reports that confirm how much contamination has happened
To the groundwater, how extensive the downstream damage is,
How quickly this non-renewable resource will be gone in any case …

If everything was on the up and up and nothing had to be
Kept from the public, do you think the largest oil companies
In the world would keep some of the top scientists
On the planet, on retainer – to the tune of millions of dollars –
So that they cannot testify, or work for anyone else, including
Environmental groups and/or governments—kind of makes
One wonder doesn’t it? And not just about the oil companies …
This is nothing new really—these scientist are paid to be deniers
Much the same way scientists were paid to deny the harmful
Effects of tobacco, oddly enough, by the oil companies
When those were first discovered and being touted widely
By the medical community—what is that saying,
“The more things change, the more they stay the same …”

And all the while, the pictures from the gulf grow ever more
Troubling, although ‘troubling’ seems far too mild a term
When one watches the size of the oil spill spreading unchecked
No matter what those supposedly in the know do to try
And stop it—this crude is flowing relentlessly toward land
Almost as if drawn magnetically there, the black is seeping
Through the depths and even up to the surface – oil is coming
And there’s no joy to be had about this bounty, none at all.

(This appeared on the site, Poets For Living Water, in the Open Mic section, summer 2010, in response to a call for work regarding the BP oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico that occurred earlier that year; the work did not necessarily have to address that particular tragedy. Unfortunately there are many from which to choose.)
The following bio accompanied the poem on Poets for Living Water - I am posting the poem here as well as leaving it up on the first site because, if I understand the situation correctly, when PfLW take down their poems, they don't archive them. I would like mine to stay up for awhile and then be archived and this way, on my personal blog, I have control of the situation.

S.E.Ingraham lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is currently the President of the Stroll of Poets, a group who meet weekly from September to March to read their work aloud, and last year, she edited their anthology. Recently her piece, “Welcome to the Jungle” placed in the competition, Expressions of Hunger, and will hang at Edmonton’s City Hall, as well as several art galleries. She has two poems archived on, and is working on several chapbooks, one of which is based on her grandson’s first year of life entitled, You Don’t Know Jack. She believes poets have a responsibility to record events, world and local, as witnesses and hopes at least some of her work reflects that belief.


  1. You're so right--far too many tragedies from which to choose. Dreadful that so many in power would have us believe the tar sands are a solution to our energy problems.

    The Stroll of Poets sounds like a great group! We should have chapters in every city!