Lessons learned can be shared and modified from play to play, [but] each one
has distinct properties which require custom approaches in order to maximize
gas and oil recovery.
. . . oh, yes, yes, the matter goes on, // turning into this and that, never the same
thing twice: / but what about the spirit . . .
—A. R. Ammons
Acid scours the wellbore. Water-soluble guar
to regulate viscosity. South to north on U.S. 65,
a fleet of 300 carbon steel tankers is alive
with 400 million gallons of alluvial aquifer.
Poseidon’s dominion is both ocean and earthquake
but the Ozarks aren’t Greek. In a contrary direction
the farmer’s trident pitchfork leans in his barn
while he swallows the lease. The play goes bulimic.
Radioactive flowback is pooled in ponds—
benzene, xylene, naphthalene—spread on fields,
re-injected beneath his rooster’s bloodline song.
Two counties away, an Iraq vet with PTSD
braces for the next tremor in a beige La-Z-Boy.
He watches a documentary about the tides and sea.
• • •
When a pointillist blob of fossil fuel wells
overwhelms my laptop map of the play,
I exit the café and find an actual fossil, gray
trilobite sealed in a decorative pebble.
I take it home for my daughter’s terrarium.
It now lives with what else has died but lives
again in glass—a hawk feather, crisp leaves,
a pine cone, a robin’s nest, and freshwater clam
on a bed of ghost-white aquarium gravel.
Some nights, when I come home to a house
asleep, my emptiness fixed on its own completion,
I lift the small lid and run my finger down
the trilobite’s washboard segments. I can only
bring myself to do this when all the lights are out.
• • •
Fracking Granite Wash
The swath of lithologies is shaped like a mitten
knitted around the hand of the past. The palm
blooms in supplication, as if to take alms
or admit an invisible methane pigeon
to crosswind. The pigeon banks, flails,
a fugitive emission from the tight-gas basin
in flight from custody, justice, vigilante citizens,
arrest. Convicted in absentia, the bird jumps bail,
detectable only by a thermal camera’s spectral
infrared. The force that shot the blossom
through the green fuse drives her pinions
into atmospheric gas. She diffuses. Her wingspan’s
global, centimeter-thin, and denied on C-SPAN
as a weather anomaly of hurricane proportion.
• • •
Come in then!
That’s the spirit.
88 MPH on a road he knows, no seat belt, no
phantom medical episode, the shale-gas CEO
plows into an overpass. Rigged to run on CNG,
his Tahoe explodes. A permanent shadow
sears into ragweed. Afterglow in Riyadh,
in Caracas. The black box captures vehicle
data, but motivation creates epistemological
crisis. It cannot know that he was indicted
the day before for conspiring to rig leases,
or that NatGas stocks rally on news of his death,
or that eight years prior the Sierra Club chairman,
to depose King Coal, accepted his $26 million
in donations. Conspire: to breathe together,
spirit of the demos that whispers “come in.”
• • •
One of the things I kinda like is my stuff leads to a volatile conclusion.
—Quentin Tarantino on Pulp Fiction
Cinephiles debate the boreal glow
emitted by Marsellus Wallace’s stolen
briefcase. A baby nuke, gold bullion,
an Oscar, Elvis’s golden lamé tuxedo,
a 60-watt soft white or Marsellus’s soul
extracted from a borehole in his neck,
overlaid with a Band-Aid. Vincent
Vega pops the combination: 666,
luminesces from the contents, later
gets wasted by Butch. But in the diner,
with a .45 in his face, Jules
flips the locks and opens the case, revealing it to Pumpkin but not to us. The same light SHINES from the case. Pumpkin's expression goes to amazement. Honey Bunny, across the room, can't see shit. HONEY BUNNY What is it? What is it? PUMPKIN (softly) Is that what I think it is? Jules nods his head: "yes." PUMPKIN It's beautiful. Jules nods his head: "yes." HONEY BUNNY Goddammit, what is it?
Read other poems from What Nature here.