Thursday, April 21, 2011

Black Liquid Gold

Last April, a catastrophic rig explosion killed 11 workers and caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that reached as far as Louisiana’s shrimp farms. Years earlier, I read that oil industry giants used little kids as refinery pipe chimney sweeps, only the temperature inside was so high, the fumes often caught on fire and burned them alive. Then the managers sent more kids to haul the bodies out. All the while, we forgot to turn our living room lights off for the night and burned more energy. I never found out whether it was true or not, but the image has haunted me since.

Humanity can’t live without fossil fuel, but perhaps we can make it more humanely. The smell of an oil refinery always gives me a strange, eerie feeling because the petroleum-infused air reeks of decay.

Here's my tribute to the one of the most destructive inventions of mankind: Black Liquid Gold. (The artwork is courtesy of All Posters.)

Ode to Black Liquid Gold
Black Liquid Gold
Thousands years old
For the high price
Bought and sold
For the high price
Of human lives
Black Liquid gold
Down below lies

Deep beneath the earth
Billions worth
Black Liquid Gold
Waits to be unearthed

Black Liquid Gold
Hides away from thieves
For the price of trees
And softly rustling leaves

For the price of elks,
Coyotes and gazelles
On the defaced land
Pop-up tents and wells
Thieves come in quick
On planes and ships
Hunters for the Gold  
Have to dig it deep
They leave behind
Scorched hills and sides,
People with not much more
Then their right to die
Black Liquid Gold
Silky, smooth, and sleek,
Yields to the strong
Zaps in the weak
Black Liquid Gold
Likes claiming lives
Human sacrifices
And high-power crimes
For the sake of pipes
Rising to the skies
Spitting out black soot
Stifling the sunrise
Boys with brown eyes
Will clean up the pipes
Sometimes they catch on fire
But they come in vast supply
So that Gods and Kings
Can make tins and pins
Fly their planes
Float submarines
Drive Jaguars
Nominate stars
Light up Christmas trees
Light up their cigars
Lighten up the night
Inside and outside
Make the very light
That’s keeping this screen bright...


  1. Your tribute it a reminder to remain conscious of the choices we make. It is too easy to "move on" and not stay with what is uncomfortable just because it is not knocking on our door at this moment or flooding our news broadcasts. Keeping events such as this alive at least to the degree that we remember it with little prompting, will help remind us our choices matter very much. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Hi Rebecca
    Thank you for stopping by to read my poem. I’m happy it served as a reminder – I was hoping it would make people to pause for a second and reevaluate the status quo we all take for granted.

  3. This is a wonderful, powerful poem, Lina. You keep revealing new, hidden talents!