Petrochemical Junkie

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a poetry reading organized by English Professor Amy Hall at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.  For my 20 minutes of mic time I ready a couple of longer pieces I had written about the origin of life on Earth and one about the oil boom in Northwestern Oklahoma.  I also shared some rather ribald limericks about various animals sex lives.

 In today’s post I want to “put myself out there” a bit and share the poem about our dependence on oil.  The poem is called “Petrochemical Junkie.”  Bare in mind that I am a biologist, so my not so subtle use of metaphor is likely lame, but the prose is heart felt.  I developed the verses over the period of about 6 weeks driving my son back and forth from Alva to Wichita for baseball practice (a regular reminder of MY dependence on oil) twice a week.  It is a two hour trip one way.  It is impossible to scan the horizon from any location along our route and not see at least one drilling rig or well head.  Often you can see five or six.  It wrenches my gut to see the scars on the land and I feel as if too few are aware of the price we are paying.

So, give this poem a read and let me know your thoughts.  Perhaps over the next few weeks I will let slip a few of my limericks, too.  After all, who wouldn’t want to hear about the sex lives of bathypelagic anglerfish in verse?

Petrochemical Junkie


So beautiful, so clean

Untouched and pristine

Like a virgin maiden

Full of life and possibility

Too pretty to be a junkie


They said just a little for everyone

You’ve gotta have it to have some fun

What could it hurt, just a bit

Full of life and invincibility

Too strong to be a Junkie


The first hits were good

The euphoria was  like a flood

Everyone wanted more

Now we’re in deep how could this be

Too many tracks not to be a junkie


We’re not addicted to heroin or cocaine

It’s oil that’s become our bane

Money clouds our judgment

Look around its plain to see

We are all a petrochemical junkie


These wells are needles hitting veins

And the drilling pads are leaving stains

We’ve become dependent on the stuff

We are living in disharmony

Because we are a petrochemical junkie


Fracking fills her body with shit

We look away we see none of it

The damage will be slow to heal

We’ve stimulated the economy

Small price to pay as a petrochemical junkie


We have to stop the wanton abuse

She can’t sustain this overuse

It’s not too late to start anew

Even addicts seek recovery

So can we as a petrochemical junkie


About benevolentheathen

I am an Associate Professor of Biology at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in ecology, evolution, and behavior with an emphasis on terrestrial vertebrates, especially reptiles. In recent years I have become increasingly interested in the interplay between science and religion. I consider myself spiritual, but not religious. I am continually reassessing my thoughts and ideas about God, faith, and religion and how they fit into my empirical worldview. View all posts by benevolentheathen

2 responses to “Petrochemical Junkie

  • Rod Murrow

    My hometown is Dacoma, “Grand Central” of the recent oil boom in Woods County. When I grew up there, you could go out on a clear night and explore the universe, in near total silence. These days, the landscape is lit up like a small city and the stars are more difficult to see. The noise level associated with this oil boom is rather extreme. Long before the oil boom, though, the water supply was poisoned (and continues to be poisoned) by the annual massive infusions of ammonia and various fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Years ago, we fished the creeks around Dacoma (Sand Creek, Lake Creek, Eagle Chief) and had many a fine meal from those waters – if I were still a fisherman, I’d be going somewhere else to fish! You are on target with your poem – we are indeed petrochemical junkies!

  • lukescott313

    Beautiful. The spirit of the earth flows through you. She cries out against those who abuse her..

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