BP PT: A TOXIC TRYST by Nicky Tiso

A Toxic Tryst

Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig (feminized)
British Petroleum (masculinized)
EPA (androgynous)
Worker (racialized)


Deepwater Horizon: (said in urgent, illicit whisper)
drill deeper in the same hole so if they decide to do so later
records show, porous is our type

BP: (with gaudy swagger)
this risky measure is too cost-effective to say no
but what if your barriers leak all the way
to the wellhead? Would you keep the workers should there be…
an accident? I want no skirmishes about that hard fact,
for I’m already tied to too many contracts.

I’ll try to prevent such a fate
thru pressure tests, but if that event
should come to light
we must flush the material
the morning after my casing blows
before it solidifies
into mud

aye, we should plan as much
for I intend to undertake another drill by early March
safety’s crucial, but it’d be a loss
should any valve buffer the experience
of this operation

then lets proceed quickly
before evidence emerges!
I expect a member of the federal panel
to be here soon, and tho our bonds are sealed
I cannot always confirm
the nature of his company

Yes, lets, my rig! Your water’s salty, and after
describing these tests I’m eager to
extend my lease unto its depths

Deepwater: (sensually)
oh baby, cap my leak, administration wide
drill me down thru sets of hose that
choke my lines in heavy fluid
before these sub sea compositions
long-term my fear…


Deepwater: (hair in a mess, exasperated)
I hope you’re satisfied! You plug my pipe
Without staying to brief my field
And now what? My site’s blown-out.
Such a major loss for such a minor kick

listen you! the buck stops here. it’s not my fault
that not every judgment I make will be right
the first time out.

Deepwater: (falls to her knee’s in pain)
my internal geometry’s clogged. I…I…
will you
help me?

BP: (looking the other direction, coldly)
there are not going to be any silver bullets or perfect answers.

Deepwater: (pleading)
will you help me?

BP: (begins pacing over her, speaking into space)
everyone’s disappointed at this time.

will you help me?

I won’t say progress was zero.

will you help me?

many of the things we’ll do have never been done before.

will you help me?

as long as necessary until successful or convinced we won’t be

(enter EPA official, like a putz, fumbling around with a clipboard)

well, oozing fear key factor here, both in regards to as well as based-on the clear long-term continuing role this information may play, both in regards to as well as based-on the clear long-term continuing role this information may play, both in regards to as well as based on….

BP: (snappy)
don’t forget to include your own failures, bitch.

right, (examining clipboard as if to corroborate statement). we’ll be sure to take a variety of conditions into consideration as we proceed with the investigation thru the appropriate process of being charged with the responsibility to manage as well as extend the development of….

Deepwater: (interrupting, clutching stomach as if in a contraction)
oh, my plume is deep!

don’t be a fool. you’re
all surface.

what’s going on? what can you tell me about this plume? are workers sick?

there are many questions about how we can move forward.

oh, there’s no logic in trying to strike a balance!

I look forward to the opportunity to hear about that.

(enter worker as black man in street clothes)

Worker: (wretching, falls down, unable to speak)

what’s that?

a case of fatigue from making too much progress.

are you sure?

BP: (seductive)
come come now. I think we’re all getting a little too…emulsified amongst so many dispersants. let’s all three of us step into my office and come into closer contact, shall we? whose to say toxic organisms can’t orgasm?

But you’ve been so unresponsive to my calls…

baby let me make it up to you. let me strain your side-effects. I got a junk-shot that’ll kill your top.

EPA: (infatuated)
boy! would I like to be dispatched to evaluate that.

(all three walk away holding hands)




I believe ecological movements have direct socioeconomic implications.  It’s not just a matter of ecology but of equality for all peoples, especially those disproportionately affected by unnatural disasters that are the clear result of the government/corporations putting profit before the public. I see my poetry as helping connect these macro disasters to their micro or local realities, to show how this ongoing spill and its pathetic response is not a failure of our system but an expression of its working. From this connection I hope to stimulate the realization that what we’re fighting for is not better help but a right to live. Likewise I hope to show how my own sense of futility in this situation is the result of political mediations that try and prevent me from sensually experiencing the reality and magnitude of what’s happening. Thru this poetry I can meditate on and transcend these mediations to become more aware of how destructive the powers governing us are. How this awareness translates to (or how it can be) action is what I believe we are all obligated to grapple with.


Nicky Tiso is a recent graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where he studied poetics and politics. He will be doing an internship with Siglio Press in September. His work has previously been published by Wheelhouse, Ditch, Thieves Jargon, Admit 2, and No Record Press, and he has an essay forthcoming in Ecopoetics. You may follow him at nickytiso.blogspot.com.

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