Published by Dancing Girl Press, Cynthia Bourinis and Claire Leeds come together to bounce poems off of one another on the subject of oil, creating a collection titled Light Sweet Crude. The result is an enlightening and scientific take on oil and its dwindling sources. Ms. Barouinis is working on her PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her work has appeared in Poetry, Salzburg Review and in a future anthology from Partner Dance Press. Ms. Leeds lives and works on a farm in southern Wisconsin and holds a BA degree in Creative Writing while currently working towards a BS in Nursing.
While you may initially think a subject about oil might be boring or come off as boring or preachy, these poets make the subject dynamic, appealing, and intellectually gratifying. Below I am happy to share some sample poems to pique your interest:
I have seen the collapse
of a rabbit’s nest in the short lawn grass.
There. The dog is tied to a stake
driven, invisible, into the ground.
She’s on a long line with a far reach.
I heard the past in a newscast—pirates
commandeer an oil tanker. Before
she was seized, her intrepid captian
peered through his telescope backwards—
thought the horizon held a distant threat.
I have found harbor in haunting:
a bell curve, the end of our plateau.
So, bar-prophet, business-man, a friend
of a friend of a friend—show me the peak
over the slick rim of your drink.
I’d like to meet our geology of decline.
I like that this poem takes every-day tragedy such as a rabbit’s nest in the grass in danger by the dog on the leash and expands it outwards to the oil tanker held by pirates. The poets even mention “thought the horizon held a distant threat.” In other words, what may seem a far and distant disaster is actually closer than you can imagine and at the end, the poet asks for more detail, more information. The poems in this collection continue on with more detail, just enough to make you want to look up even more information for yourself.
Because the Poem is a Limited Resource
I’ll ration stanzas like canned
meat during wartime; exhaust
verse to vapor, fume enough to keep
this engine plotting A to B, B to C,
C to D, origin to peak; nothing
metaphoric about our destination
but what propels us toward it
is the chemistry of conversion:
a stake drilled into the lawn distills
into the anchor of a compass;
leashed dog orbits like graphite,
carves with her body the edge
of a perfect circle,
a flattened globe, the rounded lip
of a glass from above;
the memory of scotch on my breath;
when this fuel runs out, I won’t drive
home, but bury my keys in the earth
and wait to see what grows there.
First of all, who wouldn’t want to read the poem after reading its title? Second, they are able to relate rationing stanzas to rationing oil, very clever yes? Since these poets are bouncing ideas off of each other we see the repetition of the dog on the long leash tied to the orbits of graphite which is part of the rock broken up to get to the oil. I love the idea of burying keys in the earth after the oil needed to drive is gone and to see what grows instead. I picture roads grown over with grass and tree roots breaking up the asphalt, what do you see?
If you enjoyed this short sample of poems as much as I have enjoyed the entire collection you can snag a copy of Light Sweet Crude by Cynthia Bourinis and Claire Leeds for a mere $7.00 from Dancing Girl Press at:
Thanks always for reading, please click in again tomorrow…