TWO POEMS by Christopher Rizzo


“We will meet our obligations both as a responsible company and also as a necessary step to rebuilding trust in BP as a long term member of the business communities in the US and around the world. This is in the interest of all our stakeholders.”

—British Petroleum Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, “Chairman and CEO Give Assurance that BP will Meet its Obligations in Gulf of Mexico”

“Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.”

—British Petroleum representative Randy Prescott

I am neither outraged over the destruction of an environmental niche that late capitalism can no longer exploit, nor that a “responsible company” is primarily responsible to “the interest” of their “stakeholders,” rather than to the life of Earth.

I am outraged that self-interest is the essence of political economy.

Corporations are people, too. By force of law.

We can no longer afford to let the logics of exploitation and disposability condition our interactions with the Earth.

There is no other Earth.

Corporate America inherited its sense of authority to exploit Nature and its various inhabitants from early Industry, but this attitude, which is without question the expression of a radically imperialist philosophical position, will no longer do.

The current crisis was centuries in the making. We fuel the Platonic machine with our lives.

If labor is the essence of Man, then Man must change to Organisms Who Live With Nature.

Sympathy is the upshot. Organisms Who Live With Nature have no essence prior to their bios, the ancient Greek term for physical “life.”

The essence we can empirically know as sympathy is the outcome of interactivity, not the other way around.

An environmental ethics will take sympathy for the Others—both Peoples and Nature—as the upshot.

I is many others.

I am as much entangled with you as you are entangled with me, as we are entangled with particular environments of knowing.

Organisms Who Live With Nature are stakeholders in bios.


DAY 40

Profane times require profane measures

roughly 1 leak equals 19,000 barrels equals 800,000 gallons equals
5,600,000 pounds of oil per day

when catastrophe equals a political challenge cliché

the State has dominion over me, too

top kill or whatever
equals surface effects, crude fucking relations
with the public over a barrel

nearly everything of our lives is formed systemically
from oil and love

a credit card as dangerous as lipstick

corporations do narcissism
when self-interest plus hierarchy (minus empathy
equals the bottom line

Bullshit Profit at the end of days. 


Christopher Rizzo is a writer and editor who lives in Albany, New York. His critical and creative work has appeared in Art New England, The Cultural Society, Cannibal, Dusie, Effing Magazine, Jacket, Process, and Spell among other publications. He has authored several collections of poetry, and in 2010 Boat Train will release a new chapbook, Tmēsis / In Other Words Continuing, inspired by the documentary “Philip Guston: A Life Lived.” The founding editor of Anchorite Press, Christopher is currently a doctoral candidate in English at the University at Albany.

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