My grandfather rode a camel. My father drove a car. I fly a jet plane. My son will ride a camel. — popular Saudi Arabian proverb it invisibly defined our lives, hidden matrix of black blood the post-war boom fuelled by it the wonderful crazy wealth of lawn mowers, cars for all, plastics supermarkets, drive-in churches holidays in Bali, leaf blowers jet skis, bananas we ate oil, watched oil drove oil, dreamed oil it fattened our waists like Palaeolithic fertility goddesses till we burst apart in anxiety and a stubborn sadness that infused the most emphatic laugh black milk of affluence we sucked you dry from the sallow dugs of Arabia we pumped your blackness through all the moving parts of our Great Machine. ’73, first oil crisis in Germany four silent Sundays of autobahns empty of autos bikes, prams, roller skates, grannies strolling making freeways free flesh speeds and rhythms … what bliss of tranquillity stretching away into the empty distance OPEC, you greedy Buddha I love your extortion please can we have some more some sanity, some slowness some time to look into faces some clean air and birdsong to bring the blood back into our fast bodies high on black speed
© Peter Lach-Newinsky
Overland 188 – spring 2007, p. 76
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