Monday, September 25, 2006

Tar Sands

Geological Time

I daily search for ways to interpret reality
that afford a positive or even possible
future for life on earth.

Meanwhile, on the surface, millions of cubic metres of river water, thick with toxic by-products like naphthenic acid, bubble and build in the ponds, never to be returned. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Syncrude's dam, which holds back nearly three decades of waste water, is the second-largest on Earth after the Three Gorges Dam in China. (Toronto Star, 9/25/06)

My father said you had to think
in terms of geological time be an optimist,
worked for Pure Oil, produced color, cross-sectional
charts of oil pools beneath the surface of the earth
between layers of shale, salt water and natural gas,
wrote poetry on graph paper that said PURE.

He brought home a salve dispenser in the 50s
with an oil based product Pure Oil maintained would
lubricate squeaky doors, help arthritis or heal skin tears.
I saw it the last time we moved but don’t remember
anyone using it, ever.

Every time I asked my Father
what it was for he invented a different answer.

In the 50s oil companies were looking for industrial
uses for petroleum and quickly moved past the Pure Oil Salve,
to everything —

plastic, paint, keyboards, styrofoam mulch,

cups, plates, baggies, cutlery, furniture, PVC pipes —
so today if petroleum products disappeared, or rather, when
they disappear, reality will be a huge trash pile
and the plumbing won’t work.

So naturally, this not being geologic time, but Monday,
September, 2006, morning, the lights are on
and neo cons own the world —
instead of rushing as if our lives depended on it, which
they do, into solar and wind energy, we are going to
squeeze oil out of grains of sand.

Never mind the "mining" process has produced
the third largest reservoir in the world for water full
of toxins held back by – Syncrudes Dam.

Naturally, since dams aren’t permanent, it's cool
to fill the reservoirs behind them with poison.

You have to hand it to the folks who named
the dam – Sin Crude’s Damn.

To see the world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower.
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

(William Blake)

The joke is hard to miss,
the trick is to find some hope.

* William Blake, Nebuchadnezzar

Read about Nebuchadnezzar here.

Tar Sands: At What Price Progress, Murray Whyte
Thanks for Tim Jones for sending us this.

©Susan Bright, 2006

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good example of how the Dept of Interior caters to big business rather than public safety and welfare. When this dam breaks, and eventually it will, the consequences will be horrendous, but attributed to an "Act of God" just as the coal mine waste dam failures are in Appalachia.
It is an act of supreme government stupidity and irresponsibility.

2:35 PM  
Blogger SB said...

At one point, when I was thinking about this post, I wondered what excuse -- when Canada was producing more oil than the Middle East -- what excuse the US would use to invade them.

Alternately -- the high cost of Middle Eastern oil is what makes it possible for tar sand processing to be "profitable."

Another example of how capitalism thrives on stupid ideas.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

about the Tar Sands--sorry if this is long. What is most unsettling is how much is unknown, and not communicated through the media. Alberta is enjoying being a rich province right now, and is better than most of the provinces at rechanneling the money back into worthy causes such as schools, medicine (best doctors in the world in the children's hospital etc) and also a world class Heart Clinic. But all this 'pride' of course hides the ignored environment issues. Add to that, Alberta supplies oil for the rest of the country--there is an obligation as well to provide until other avenues are explored. Calgary is a city very rich off of oil, Edmonton is growing this way. I've been worried about this.....(hence 'consider the water') a Nobel prize winning environmentalist, now living in Alberta, thought that by winning the prize he could get at least get the message across that by 2025 we could be out of water--unpolluted water. He has given up, nobody is listening much money in oil


10:51 AM  

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