A POETRY ACTION by Matthew Falk

A Poetry Action

This poem is a bird.
Not a petrol-coated pelican
but a bird to be flipped
at those oily bastards.
We don’t care if they don’t give
half a shit about poetry
and what we poets think.
We’ll show them:
I call upon Yeats for an image
out of Spiritus Mundi:
the BP exec slouches
into Bethlehem, his gaze blank
and pitiless as the sun, to plunder
the desert, despoil the seas
for 10 more years of SUVs.

Meanwhile nearby in Saudi Arabia
American-educated MBAs
unveil the 2010 Ghazal-1, their first
domestically produced
automobile. It’s a big deal.
They think they’ve named it
for a fast African antelope,
but I hear “guzzle,” as in “guzzle
some more of our oil, please, friends.”
And I think of the classical Persian
poem also called the “ghazal,”
which, according to the poetry scholars at Wikipedia,
“may be understood as a poetic expression
of both the pain of loss or separation
and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.”
(When I Googled “ghazal” just now, by the way,
I used the same amount of energy
as is contained in half a milliliter of water;
“300 million searches
worldwide each day
require 150,000 liters of water
to produce the required electrical power.”)

But this is no time to talk
about power, pain, love, and beauty.
Back to the oil. The oil is
everywhere, from the Holy Land
to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s like
the bloody British Empire.
The sun never sets on the BP spill.
Blake’s dark satanic mills
can’t hold a candle to this.
What can a poet do but throw up
a rhetorical middle
finger, and retreat, and repeat:
This poem is a bird….


Matthew Falk has recently published short fiction or poetry in H_NGM_N, Shoots and Vines, The Ambassador Poetry Project, The Catalonian Review, A cappella Zoo, and elsewhere. He works for Mayapple Press and is an MFA student at the University of Baltimore.

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