an ode to internal combustion
By JOE AMATO
Let us begin with Qibla
to ask of a world so
– let us be dreamily precise – oriented
whether it really can avail a concept such as
– let us be even more dreamily precise – evolution
which iron hand of change
or chance heeds neither prayer
nor moral compass
but speaketh of successions
as against immutabilities
save for its own ineffable workings.
We might have begun with Calvary
but we are feeling chary of late
in our dreams.
Let us answer this question resolutely: PROBABLY NOT
and seek no echo
to the apparent lack of sense. That is, you probably won’t learn about science
revolutionary or otherwise
from your Imam, priest, pastor, rabbi, monk
plain old spiritual counselor
or life coach, whatever
your Mecca-inspired mathematics.
By Islam and faith thus to our dreamy faith
not in science, perhaps in reason, but foremost
in the energy
science would ascribe to natural phenomena
and in particular
to oil, the unreconstructed crude, fucking
oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea.
This is how dreams work, you see.
Remember the Alamo? NO
or at least, not the way
you probably remember it, with the Duke
at the helm (this was after Rock’s
stint as Texas oilman and
wildcatter George H. W.). Remember instead
not Billy Bob, no
but Persia, China, Baghdad, Imperial Russia, Galicia
and northwestern PA circa 1859. Petrol by then, “petroleum”
by the 1520s, if the Web may yet be trusted
but “oil” comes much earlier, much
much earlier, via e.g. olives, olive trees, much much
much earlier than Standard Oil (est. 1870), Rockefeller
v. dear Ida M. Tarbell, etc. She won, btw
and then, years later
(not the Mexicans, no
silly, even if
they weren’t entirely
unjustified, as we
to judge by ExxonMobil (aka Valdez Is Us) and
$2 billion in tax breaks any way
you cut it, Jack, circa 2011
$2 bil to the Big Five US oil companies
– let us be precise –
Chevron, BP (aka Deepwater Is Us), ConocoPhillips, Shell, ExxonMobil
the greatest of these, perhaps
the greatest of these
philanthropically (albeit all are pocked with human rights abuses
avatar of, to be crude about it
the only sort of sodomy
should be outlawed
because if the public, i.e.
is not, intentionally
and otherwise, taking it
up the ass
why are you reading this?
ExxonMobil a direct descendant of Standard Oil, yadda yadda
and affiliated with Imperial Oil in Canada
who own that wonderful refinery
in the Standard Heights [Big Chuckle] neighborhood
of Baton Rouge
that releases enough VOCs
which, ‘tis well-nigh certitude, could choke a small child
this is a far cry from jobbers, no doubt
and pre-Columbus Native Americans
harvesting seeps for medicinal purposes
and BTUs aside, aren’t we all invested in the oil companies
so don’t their profits profit us
or some of us
albeit certainly not the US
to reckon simply by certain economic events
and after all, they earn only 5.6 cents per gallon of gas sold, circa
whenever, which is well below the average profit margin
yet it costs approx. $20 per barrel to produce crude
and it’s selling at present (13 May 2011) for $100 per barrel
and it’s selling at present (5 February 2016) for $31 per barrel
which speaks to, to, to
other uses and to other kinds of
earnings [Insert emoji in final draft—JDR];
“U.S. refineries produce between 19 and 21 gallons of motor gasoline from one barrel (42 gallons) of crude oil. The remainder of the barrel yields distillate and residual fuel oils, jet fuel, and many other products. ”
“Each person in the US consumes petroleum products at a rate of approx. 3.5 gallons of oil per day and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day.”
“It takes 140 gallons of oil equivalent to raise just one acre of corn.”
& farm equipment
& pesticides & herbicides
& petroleum-based fertilizers
& the fact that the Big Five are not among
the top ten largest oil and gas companies.
No, I’m not a student anymore
but I’m sure acting like one, ain’t I
given my evident knack for citing
only online sources as evidence.
Wait one fucking moment:
Let us continue to digress for just one fucking moment, b/c
let’s face it
Islam ought not to be blamed for everydangthing
under the Western sun, right? even
if this IS a dream this is how men kill
through association(s), another of those invisible hands
that extend outward from our perennially transparent bodies.
“I dreamt I was Mitch McConnell, or
worse, that guy I knew
who voted for Mitch McConnell.”
I say Islam, you say oil
Islam, oil, Bizlam, boil
let’s call the whole thing off-
and yet, and yet
dreams are, you know
dreams, and like feelings
ain’t much we can do about same, was there?
That “thus to our faith,” above
is mighty suspect, and it requires something more than
nostalgia for a Bedouin crossing the Nefud
with a pale-eyed Englishman
to make that associational leap, re which
see another poem in this “collection.”
We shall aspire to speak truth, then, to Christian power
that would speak Christian truth to those w/o power
even in our dreams?
NO, we changed our minds, we won’t do that
even in our dreams
b/c it’s too [cough] easy. We’re not taking sides
or pretending to take sides
Though Pakistan is one fucked-up country
in a lot of ways.
I’m sure there are people who live in pride there, justifiable
But it’s still one fucked-up country.
More fucked-up than the US? Well, NO, actually.
Wait. Let’s see. Scratch that:
YES. Most dreamily. That is
according to the American Dream. Which is
just that. We have a hunch
they all are.
But what the fuck does this have to do with oil, the stuff that ultimately goes into
just about everything. (Not really
a question?) Not only
the roads we drive on (asphalt concrete), but the fuel
for the engines that propel
most of the cars we drive in
on said roads, the fill-‘er-up of
yore, which cars are fabricated
out of materials that often contain
the byproducts of crude, plastics
Mitch, you SOB, your SOBness is leeching out all over this goddamn thing.
Correction: leaching out. Into the sand.
Jingoism too. Maybe even sexism. Everyfuckinism. Chalk it up to
we who are astonished
esp. in the absence of horses, horsepower
like all power, the rate of doing work
or expending energy, sayeth science
and dreams, esp. in the absence of horses
or horsies, the stuff
that we are made of. Think The Pyramids. Think
civilization as we know it. Dreams
or the absence of horsepower? Poor dumb oilrigged hydrofracked Fukushima’d bastard
civilization, wouldn’t you know it, don’t we
Then think inclined plane. Think wheel. Think work, labor, sweat, polemic. Think
and try to work up a sweat
thinking. Burn those calories, eat up that
energy. Trouble that spirit, that Eastern
spirit, the one that orients
us toward or away
from the inexorable reach
of evolution, of science, of
succession, of explanation
of the manifest material world
which speaks in strange and often disconnected ways
to why we are so fucking
fucked up, materially and
spiritually, with or without
windmills, solar panels, fiber
and ground source heat pumps
if not without
Energy energy energy fuel fuel fuel crude crude crude. Distillation distillation. Phase change imminent, or incipient, or whatever:
Poetry → Prose, or Prose → Poetry?
Get it? Got it? Good. (Clayton didn’t, bless his heart. But that was a tenure denial or two ago, and a different poem, and Danny Kaye
with Basil Rathbone
kicks the shit out of
most of us
(Does that ) bother you? Here: ( )
Wethinks we start with poetry. Wethinks poetry is crude, baby, fundamentally crude. In spirit too. Wethinks
there might be an evolutionary datum. To poetry.
To which – not poetry, but crude – we owe even the roof over our mighty heads, if your roof, like ours, uses asphalt tiles, which multitudes do. Unless you’re living in a hut, in which event, we’ll exploit your ass, your oil, your spirit, and just about everything else that makes you, you. Dreaming or undreamt.
WE NEED JOBS, so fuck you and your hut, or hovel, or whateverthemotherfuck.
Disturbing? Then let us to metaphysics:
If what’s there is not real, then may we assume that what’s not there is also not real?
If categories of things are on a continuum, then at what point do we distinguish one thing from another?
Is there a point at which the processes associated with the making of this poem render it less a poem than a treatise? Less a treatise than one fucked-up wet fucking dream?
Is this strictly a matter of individual interpretation and circumstance, or will all such interpretations be bounded by a cluster of points on said continuum on either side of which poetry or prose will be readily identifiable?
Will this cluster point [sic] to some intrinsic value, or to a social value, e.g., clusterfuck?
If a social value, will this social value be fixed and universal, or variable and contingent, i.e., clusterfuck?
So, then, I mean, like, over here you have, in global terms
No Pot To Piss In?
← and over there you have →
Pot To Piss In?
(we nearly wrote
Poet to Piss in, haha)
[& FYI we are firmly committed
to modest formatting, fearing as we do
and the distinguishing factor
is, among other things—wait for it
no, we hazard not formal integrity, you dolt, but
access to oil?
or should we have written
access to poetry?
or should we have written simply
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, QED.
This could be another way of saying that even a non sequitur
will lead us directly to the ruthless tyranny of a place like, oh, let’s say
Saudi Arabia, what with their Wahhabist rot
and ARAMCO petrodollars. Or will it
The performance of this
(don’t know why, the noun seemed somehow not
to belong here, the people
so affected, stigmatized
by a different kind of public energy
which is all the more reason for including it
(I nearly wrote public enemy, haha lol or halo, or hello? OMG
how inappropriate or
Can someone say “extinction”?
Wow. And someone (else) just blew themselves up over there. A jihadist. A baby
jihadist. Doubtless the consequence of more adult
exuberance, more impassioned
fallout from our quest for long decomposed
organisms acted upon by intense heat and pressure
of intermittent stupidity
though if you ever had to work a field
with oxen, harness, and walking plow
(not me, brother
you might better appreciate
the enterprising nature of
this upright species, this
piece of work.
And as if from a past life I recall
“the ratio of shear stress
to the rate of shear deformation”
while those long lines at the pump circa 1973 sent Jill, Mark, and me on one long drive
and my how things do slip
through one’s fingers.
Did I say not to come here
for history? which leaves decidedly open
the nature of the knowledge
or affect one is to come here
for, albeit for
the sake of imagination
[my operative phrase throughout]
ponder how the rights of property
and the rights of persons, liberty
shall find their way back
home to the study
home, our shared
property, this finite globular mass
and rights real and imagined, each line
of work a sign of lives
to life, breaking
down the old
jalopy somehow takes us to
Bully Bully for US!
Bully Bully for difficult poetry
and Bully Bully for intake
for the goddamn jesuschristallfuckingmighty horseshit of motive and spirit
that drills and drills and drills
to bring that beautifully impure mix of hydrocarbons
and liquid organics, light heavy sweet sour
to the surface, to that energetically aestheticized surface
as we plunder our everlasting hellfucked turbohemispherical dreams
of a sweatlessly unfinanced, fossilized future!
DOWN WITH DREAMS!
and while we’re at it SAY GOODBYE TO THE BEES! & Mister Peabody
(nicotine a natural insecticide
though the first neonicotinoids were synthesized by Shell
and maybe it’s time to #layitonalittlethick
more than one
would like to have found a way to insert Ludlow Haymarket labor
struggle as an antidote to hings That Appear God-given (TTAGg)
fuck it, this is the kind of poem
you would make out of such
WAKE THE FUCK UP!!! (not you
Langston, you already know
what I’m talking about)
one nation under
oops, planet under
400 ppm circa 2013 or
& yeah, I’m still
in the driver’s seat
Joe Amato’s most recent books are Sipping Coffee @ Carmela’s (Lit Fest Press, 2016), in which “Dr. Fossilicious” appears, and Samuel Taylor’s Last Night (Dalkey Archive, 2014).