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 lawnmowers, cars for all, plastics,

supermarkets, drive-in churches,

holidays in Bali, jet skis, bananas.

We ate oil, watched oil,

drove oil, dreamed oil,

it fattened our waists

like Paleolithic 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 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.


[first published in Overland, Melbourne, 2007]


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 1, 2009.

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