Black blood

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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Peter Lach-Newinsky

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