News Poetry: “Fracking Accident, Firestone, Colorado”

Circulatory systems beneath the once-prairie,
now cul-de-sac, now-charter school,
below Oak Meadows, a new suburb
in the once-outback of the West.
Underground infrastructure unmapped,
a vast unknown universe, intricate
ruins from forty-three years of fracking,
abandoned and top secret.

We frack as fast as possible.
We boom and bust.  We rush,
bleed out natural gas,
empty the earth’s arteries
and parse out acceptable risks.
No one inhabiting the orbit
of skyscrapers, where such decisions
are made, will smell char
or deal with the concussive explosion
or fireball flaring like Etna in Italy.
Another Anadarko accident ash falling,
the way snow inundates Oak Meadows,
the smell of burn and singe envelop
clear smoke alarms, all stay-at-home
moms carpooling.

A home improvement project turns
sinister, incinerates two people,
burns a third, and finger pointing
commences. The edge
of the Rockies to the Nebraska border
is blackened like the sky above the house
in Firestone.

The subterranean arteries,
transporters of combustibles,
are the purview of the National Transportation
Safety Board and oil and gas companies step
Aside and offer apologies
and we-thought-it-was-safe.
Odorless gas may fill other basements
only one spark away from end times,
an improvised explosive device
ready to detonate at any minute.
The smoke lifts

and we survey a map of northeastern Colorado,
and see for the first time or time and time
again that multitudes of small black dots
indicate fracking sites we and try to come to terms
with the cartographer’s redaction
of our sector of the world.

Add this abandonment
to our long list of anxieties
as to the safety of each welding joint,
or the possibility pipes that snake the prairie
will leak into our futures.
As archaeologists of the aftermath,
we are denied a map of ruins dormant
and seething and we wait for
the next inevitable flashpoint and blast.

Photo credit: Simon Fraser University, Creative Commons, Flickr

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  1. Well done, poet! Well done CO Indy!!!
    I agree with Karen that poetry is sometimes more effective than logic. Keep up the great writing and thanks for posting this.

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