Thursday, March 15, 2012

55/Meeting the Bar - A crude dependency

what makes you think i
        have a problem?

i can
         quit anytime---

(i drop
      fifty --- for a
             quick fix

before the shakes

perhaps at six
      dollars / gallon we'll see
               the seriousness

but i gotta go
        gotta get somewhere
        gotta get some

i can
      quit anytime---

maybe buy a camel
          & sell

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.

Over at dVerse Poets today, Charles Miller has asked us to go beyond our poem and focus on the thoughts & what was going on around us that gave rise to the poem and the thoughts that came with it. I decided to focus on the above 55 words and expand them a bit.

A crude dependency (redux)

It's unrealistic to think
i can hit oil, as much as buy a camel
as it is that i can quit
       pumping gas

in my car, to get somewhere
different than where we are
we have to think different
        & we talk

cause it's cheap, and grumble but
the reality is numbers on a receipt
for the grocery store, is the sound made
when you suck that last bit of milkshake
through the straw, my wallet makes---

as i stand and watch the digital numbers
roll faster and faster & know i either
need to get another job
          or keep rationing
food to my family

& no one cares
               cause it's bad for business
(Big Oil pays the bills,
                    & not just in Congress)

maybe i will go back into banking or sales
         where i can screw people out of their money,
trying to help only leaves you broke

At what point it is no longer
                           about the heart?
                 is it?
           it is my fault---

& the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars
        can drive on it

this is when it hurts
      but what choice do you have
      so you stop at the corner store
      and try to smile at your dealer
      as you


Sue said...

My son told me last night that it cost him $100 to fill his Honda Odyssey with regular unleaded gas.



izzy said...

(I won't get to my 55 til later-) but I thought you meant liquor not Gasoline! It is the same with either dependency and denial any how,
thanks !

Helen said...

I am in the middle of writing a 55 poem about my 'five mile rule.' A variation on your theme ..
Sue called it right ~ CRAZY.

Laurie Kolp said...

Brian- It really is horrendous how high gas has become. You capture the thoughts of many of us as we wonder how we'll afford it.

I like how the first one is a metaphor for alcohol dependence. Love this from the second one:

& the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars
can drive on it

rosaria said...

It used to be that housing took the biggest bite of the budget, and both food and gas and utilities were inexpensive compared to Europe. An article in The Atlantic breaks down what things cost today. I have shared it on Facebook.

Brian Miller said...

wish i was on FB so i could see it rosaria...will email so maybe you can send it to me or drop me a link...

moondustwriter said...

You are right - it is a sick dependency
will it be food or crude that we spend our last $4 on???

Claudia said...

i like the whole poem a lot but the heart for me was in these lines...

trying to help only leaves you broke

At what point it is no longer
about the heart?...

took me back a bit into my own husband was working for a while (unpaid - out of idealism) in a homeless shelter and it was good for some years...but then he got tired and eaten up by the things he saw and couldn't change...and decided to go back to his old company into a paid full-time job... not an easy decision..but i think if it's no longer about the heart, from the heart, then it's time to get a workers are the no. 1 candidates for a burnout... so..stopping now...just got a bit carried away to the periphery of your poem...smiles...sorry...

Mary said...

Well, it is true that the helping professions usually don't pay the highest salaries. I think the powers that be believe people who go into them are idealistic and would work for the love of it...but the love, after a while, doesn't pay the bills. But don't go into banking expecting $$ either, as my daughter works for a bank and has horrible hours and makes less than those in helping professions! Odd though that I don't really see people cutting down on driving or even talking about it. They are just biting the bullet. We are close to $4 here, and probably by Memorial Day will be. People can't just keep paying MORE......lots to think about in your poem, Brian.

Brandee Shafer said...

I hate having my roll slowed.

adeeyoyo said...

Where will it all end? I think the world will implode... Where are our priorities and how do we decide? Makes one think.

AmyLK said...

I like them both! And so true. I can only afford $20.00 per week and when that's gone, I can't go anywhere or I get bike out.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

It's like drug deals these days at the pump. Your analogy of the draining wallet and that last sloppy sip from the milkshake, so apt. Very much to like in both these works, and very much to resent!! (not you - Big Oil!) Amy
PS Any presidential candidate who promises to lower oil prices is a BIG FAT LIAR. Until we close down the futures markets, we are in their thrall, which means our hands are tied by what are essentially casino addicts.

darkangelwrites said...

I love how the pump asks, "Would you like a receipt?" Hell no I don't want a reminder that you just took 90, yes 90, bucks from me. But mobility is as American as apple pie. Does anybody still eat that?

turtlememoir said...

nice, Brian - I like 'em both

"& the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars
can drive on it"

- the 'easier, softer way' AA's talk about? :) - and one does wonder when and where this ever more costly dependency will end...

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"i can
quit anytime---

maybe buy a camel
& sell

Hi! Brian...Great use Of 55 [poetic] words...

"this is when it hurts
but what choice do you have
so you stop at the corner store
and try to smile at your dealer
as you

...Unfortunately, I don't drive or own a car, but I'm sure friends and [my] relations are suffering and [very quietly, I'm...too!]
Tks, for sharing!
deedee ;-/

Indigo said...

You pulled two very different reactions out of me reading these.
The first one, I was all...hell yeah! I love road tripping on back wood mountain roads.

The second one is a harsh reality. As much as I need the road trips for the muse, I need to equally proficient with how my funds are spent.

In the end maybe the solution is moving to the mountains, away from the sanity...(Hugs)Indigo

The Bug said...

the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars
can drive on it


Liza said...

"the road to hell is that cars can drive on it." How funny and sad at the same time. I've been driving a Fiat 500 since we've been back from Europe. I spend $40 for almost two weeks. Definitely not roomy but i have more room in my wallet.

Tara Miller said...

It certainly hurts the wallet a lot and makes me cringe every time we have to fill up. Unless this country makes some big changes it's going to continue to hurt. I can remember the days of 99cent gas - but never gonna see that again!

Gerry Snape said...

..." the reality is numbers on a sheet"...
..."as I watch the numbers roll faster and faster"...

Gosh that's so true..and a great way to get it home!!

Mary Mansfield said...

A very timely piece for sure. I can't even remember the last time I put gas in my Grand Cherokee, it's turned into a permanent driveway ornament at this point. Thankfully we still have a little beater Honda that gets great gas mileage.

Lolamouse said...

Love the milkshake line and the "Road to hell" line too! Both of these are terrific and terrifically frightening!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Would it be 'not playing the game' to say I preferred the first version of the poem? I think it had tons of impact, and all the frustration over sky-rocketing gas prices was there.

Daydreamertoo said...

And it is all true.
All the while the consumer demands it, they (the money men) will keep supplying it and holding out their hand for our money. We create our own nightmares and then we live them.
I read a long time ago that there have been other cheap means of making cars move apart from petrol, but, I also read that the oil men bought up with tons of money all the rights to the products so that they couldn't ever be mass produced and hence put them out of business. Who knows but, you're right, when we need to get from A to B ...we'll still keep paying until oil and hence driving, eventually becomes a luxury only for the well off or, rich. :)

CiCi said...

I am so glad I live in this little town. I don't have to use the car at all really and I don't have to leave this town either. I walk or ride my bike. I fill my gas tank every couple months if then. Whew. Fixed income retired old lady is smiling.

Brian Miller said...

not at all kerry...i think i like parts of each...i think the second is a little more personal and specific to my own situation and feeling while the first leaves it a bit more open...

Heather said...

I did think you meant liquor at first, too! ha ha ha -
but yes, it cost me over 75$ the other day to fill my car ....and that was with regular!
good one!

Felt Tip Fountain Pen said...

Some dependencies are cruder than others!

Betsy said...

filling the tank does make you feel sick...especially when you see the oil company's annual profits.

manicddaily said...

Hi Brian-=I'm lucky enough not to have to drive hardly anywhere--but gas still affects all. I, however, found the first rendition (or maybe it was the second) the short one more compelling as more abstracted and generalized and also--aha!--exactly 55 words. K.

happygirl said...

And it's getting pricier every day. Still cheaper than Europe. I love driving my car. I don't think I could give it up. Yep, I need me my petrol. ;)

hedgewitch said...

Yeah--the choices are not good these days for those who have to do much driving--walking just isn't an option in a lot of places--maybe someday it will force us to have little self sufficient communities again, growing their own food, people staying close to what they have to have, to what they really need. Good one, Brian. I think I totally blew this prompt--I wrote an annotation, not a poem about my poem...sigh. Oh well.

Grace said...

Both well written...the details of the second one touched me. I do use the car to go to office, so I can relate with the price of gas. Fortunately, my hubby has always chosen a low maintenance and basic car, so it doesn't hurt as much. We are lucky that we are both working but what happens if we decide to stop or change gears. Yes, price of living is really high ~

Fred Rutherford said...

Really cool. I love the way you compare drug use to gasoline use--and there are quite similar, never would've thought of it, great detailing. In the 55 I have to admit the structure and the spacing, the jaggedness to it at points, was a great job getting into character, great job bringing that fiending out, Ministry's Just one Fix for whatever reason kept on playing in my head- the expansion was great, as it really opened up the 55 into this comparison, but also provides a totally different piece. Awesome job Brian, great read. Thanks

ipenka said...

I liked the second one. Felt like an answer key and what I did get out of the first one, could verify.

Lucky I drive a corolla but still felt it the other day when it cost 50 to fill up the tank. That's a first for me I think.

Tabor said...

My husband thinks this is all a right wing conspiracy...or right wing or the other.

Charles Miller said...

Brian, this is a cool take on the prompt, replying to poetry with poetry. You do give the thought processes, or whatever they're called that fill in the gaps in your earlier poem. And you give that narrative arc that is your life in your poetry.

On a personal note: like you I too quit the world of corporate life and tried my hand at teaching. I had been burned out by 70hour weeks for months at a time, a life that tore my family and me apart. Unfortunately, I waited too long and didn't get off the cariousel before stuff fell apart. It worked for a while but now I'm back in it, trying to make my life fit that stuff together again.

Your poem reminds us what price we pay when we live for the big bucks, takes on the Joneses, whatever that all comes to. It sounds like you're there and ready to take it down the highway wherever it goes. There's always responsibilities that weigh on us, above and beyond our selves, and what is often missed by those who might judge us is that we have to live our lives so we can be better people, and that doing that comes from inside, not the things bought or size of the house.

Anonymous said...

Never ceases to amazes me how much writing you get done every on your blog, dverse, or commenting on're a very accomplished guy....keep it up! Maybe it will buy you a few tank-fulls of gas :)

R.M. @

Daniel said...

Drug, it's just a state of mind - An old Duran Duran song title - it just kind of popped into my head as I read this one (smiles).

pandamoniumcat said...

This is a fantastic poem...I really love the sound effect... is the sound made when you suck that last bit of milkshake through the straw, my wallet makes... that says so much...

I think this poem is at the heart of what a lot of us think about the world we live in today... how do we help people or even ourselves to have the life we aspire to? (Even just a simple life)... just eating...the bare essentials we almost need to get a bank loan. A true peoples poet!

Friko said...

you take the most unlikely subjects and turn them into poetry.

Pat Hatt said...

hahahaha paved so cars can drive on it
Oh that caused quite the laughing fit
They could have gotten rid of it long ago
But it continues to flow
For they wouldn't want to crash the economy or such
Which is a tad egocentric uch
For all they want
Is to get richer and richer at their haunt

S.E.Ingraham said...

These are both great! Living in the province that boasts and is ashamed of the dirty oil from the Tar Sands, it's hard to imagine why we're paying as much or more than anyone else in Canada for fuel ... and I remember people saying, as soon as it gets to $1.00 per ... that's it ... yeah, well (oil-well, I guess) Good writes and nice paradigm shift from one to the other ...

Monkey Man said...

Awesome double dip.

Steve Piper said...

Oil *is* the new crack, isn't it?

Very well done, Brian, both the original poem and it's elucidated version both, works of art. Thank you!

Katherine Krige said...

And they say the prices will rise as the summer nears. I guess we have to pay for our privileges

DJan said...

They are here to stay. It's finally come home to roost. Yup. It's time, we are going to learn the lessons of the past decades. During an election year, yet.

Arian Tejano said...

I wish I could hear you read your works. These are memorable pieces, Bri.

kaykuala said...

The rise in gas prices had been consistent with political turmoils rather than calamities. What caught my eye recently was that the big boys are thinking of cars running on water. Can you beat that?


Vicki Lane said...

Until people quit driving those monster SUVs to the grocery store, I'd say the price hasn't gone high enough. We switched to a Honda Fit (around 45 mpg) and leave the old Jeep at home except on rare, necessary occasions. Unfortunately, the high prices hurt those who can least afford it.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Drill baby drill. We are a bunch of sorry addicts. Wealthy sheiks can sure buy a lot of camels with our petro dollars. Another thing makes me kinda nervous, Brian. Why are Arabs buying up all our party stores and gas stations? Are they going to take away our beer and make us spend all our money on gas?
Just a wayward thought for the Ides of March.

(I dropped $50.01 tonight before I got the shakes)

Syd said...

We are nation of dependents but will need to find some other ways of getting our fix.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

For me this poem sounds to close home. Great job. This is a situation that will continue to go and down.

G-Man said...

45 Bucks for my 2-door Cavalier!
Great job on both prompts Son...
Excellent 55
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End

Anonymous said...

One time I accepted a job for the pay over the love of what I do and it was pure hell. And I had to stick with it for 5 years because it was when I needed a transplant and couldn't risk letting go of the insurance that would cover it. And the reality is that health care and the other service professions like yours don't get the same kind of pay. But at night, when you've been there for others, it's worth it.

I linked the wrong poem today, so just put up the other one. When I saw your comments, I realized what happened.

Victoria said...

That anonymous comment was mine...that's what happens when you hit enter too soon.

KB said...

I hear ya. Every time I fill up the car with gas I'm amazed at the price.

adan said...

"i either
need to get another job
or keep rationing
food to my family"

powerful stuff brian

and i've been there in the 70s, late 80s, over and over

same game

and i know the bit about choices of the heart and jobs to pay for food, looking at changes myself, soon too

best wishes brian, nice prompt going, will see if i can slip in tomorrow, but glad you did, take care

Gloria said...

ah Brian! you are in all an think in all too (lol)

Alice Audrey said...

I don't even pretend to be able to do without the gas, but I ride my bicycle more than anyone else in the neighborhood.

TALON said...

We never did focus on the bigger picture when it really mattered, did we? So now we're all dependent and it seems it will take something extreme to make any changes.

momto8 said...

I liked your thoughts and analogy and insights!!!
I filled both cars today....I know.
i am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

farmlady said...

We are all addicted in different ways. We smile at the cameras... and laugh when asked about something serious.
We always say we're OK.
It's a river of denial and we have no place to go but downstream.
I love both poems.

Cloudia said...

you are a pump-kin!

Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

>< } } ( ° >

Magpie said...

Sometimes I feel like the rat in a cage on the wheel...going round and round. What's necessary, what's not? What's expensive, what's cheap? What can I give up, what must I keep? Hey, I made a rhyme! :)

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

So true. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a house just a block from work and from a rail line under construction. Right now I only need a car for the weekly grocery run, but soon I won't need one at all.

Anne said...

It's sad but they've got us hooked on something we depend on and they hold all the cards. And sadly, they don't care about how we feel or if we are able to even feed our families. I don't think this is going to get better anytime soon.

Wander said...

"& the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars
can drive on it"

This is a f-ing brilliant line, best of the year so far and so true!!!


A Daft Scots Lass said...

♥ the layout! Happy 55!

anthonynorth said...

It's even more expensive in the UK. Nicely put.

Valerie said...

I liked the 55 best, for me it had more punch.

It's the same here in the UK and although government asks us to use public transport I can't do that for medical reasons. So, I'm stuck with paying the bill.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Do you sometimes feel like a hamster on a wheel? You just keep plodding along, never going anywhere, but thinking you're getting somewhere. Were you put in the cage, or did someone just open the door and you walked in? Oh, look! Food!
Great, thought-provoking write, Brian.

MorningAJ said...

Six dollars a gallon? Over in the UK we WISH! I just did a quick calculate and it's already more than $11 a gallon over here. (And they're threatening to put more tax on it next month)

Excellently put. Though I need my car to get to work. About $90 a week just to commute.

My 55 are here . (At least it doesn't cost me to write!)

Madhulika said...

55 and that too with double dip...
Only you can do it ;)

Mary said...

Brian, you said at Claudia's that you were having trouble with Word Press. Me too. It will NOT take my usual sign in anymore. I do have a WP that I never use, and I am forced to sign in using a WP account (which leads to the same place anyway). I get the message that it 'sees' that I have a WP it takes away my freedom of choice. Quite irritating to have this sudden glitch!

Dave King said...

You've probably realised by now that I'm a total fan of your poetry. This, I think, is one of your best. A real cracker!!

the walking man said...

There is reality in both Brian. But there is also measured steps to take while swimming in someone elses pond. I think you are doing most of them. You can only cut and conserve so much so where to you go from there?

Here we have for under $100 made a way to use our laundry water to flush our toilet.

For less than $5 I bought a 1/2 inch ball valve and we take navy showers. We have not paid more than the minimum water bill in over a decade.

We have two vehicles but only use the most fuel efficient one that has 300+ thousand miles on it.

Every bit of cash I had invested I liquidated back to cash, it doesn't garner much growth but then it never loses any numbers either.

What the truth of the problem of oil is though, them that have the ability to correct it have not the guts.

Oil is a commodity and before we got rid of Glass-Stegall and removed the wall from banks and investment houses commodities were purchased a hedge against future price increases by 70% of them who actually used the commodity. airlines, oil companies, chemical companies and refineries. and 30% was purchased by investors hedging against their other investments.

Now because there is no regulation those numbers are flipped 70% of oil is bought for leverage to raise the price and the profit now when those that actually use it need it have to pay whatever the market has manipulated it up to.

This is a part of the shadow government that you hear bits and pieces of but few people really understand. No branch of government runs this country anymore. They enforce laws yes but those laws are the ones them who pay the relatively cheap price to keep them in office tell them to enact.

Are you aware that for a sitting Senator to retain his seat he must raise $15,000 dollars a day. Do you think my little $10 dollar contribution is going to get them there? Nope big money buys big power. Little money is pissing down a deep dark useless hole.

But either there is a train coming or there is a light at the far end of the tunnel. See how fast Limbaugh was taken down, his money isn't hurt because his contract is guaranteed at 400 million for a decade but look what nonviolent action by an informed citizenry has done to Clear Channel radio that syndicates him and take it a step further what it is doing to Bain capital (Yeah Rooney's old search and destroy company) which owns 50% of CC.

We can fight, we may lose but we can fight and the way we fight is reuse, re-purpose, and never buy anything new. What does your body care if someone elses legs once wore that pair of jeans you have on.

This is a one object war and that object is money. Spend for your needs, want your needs and don't need your wants. As I have said before and I know you're on board with it, NOW it is the time for the artists, the poets, the writers to get informed, speak out and inform people of the who, what and how. When you quit funding them who are using your own money to abuse you with, we will find out if it be a train or the sun rising. One is our destruction the other our new day.

SueAnn said...

Grinning and waving to you as I pump pump pump!!! Sigh

stu mcp (hate & hope) said...

very powerful and love the expansion of the second piece on the first...i think it tells a tale of being stuck between a rock and a hard place- gotta pay the bills without sacrificing your integrity- but sometimes thats a hard choice to make- ive been there- worked for banks- worked for smaller companies- i generally find that they are all the same- its all about the bucks- money not people- captured so well i this line-

& no one cares
cause it's bad for business

loved how you got this across through the metaphor of the car and pumping gas.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Damned addicted vehicles, enabling those greedy oil companies.

Sheila said...

I like the metaphor in the first poem. Oil companies are like drug cartels. Guess that makes the gas stations like dealers (although their hands are tied as much as ours I suppose)

Susie Clevenger said...

We drive our addiction out of necessity, pleasure..Love your take on the cost of fuel.

Dani said...

the numbers on the tank are running faster than my blood these days

Geraldine said...

we sold both our cars about 5 years ago, when we moved to another province. I'm still proud that we did. it's hard to get used to not having the convenience of a vehicle available at all times but oh what a saving in so many ways.

I liked this post Brian. Ya done good! And with 55 words!

margo said...

Good grief, you are popular. I feel guilty adding to it, but enjoyed following the interior monologue of the second piece after having read the first.

Nara Malone said...

I really like seeing how everyone came up with their poems. I'm learning a lot about writing. I hear you on the cost. The frustrating part is that in both food and gas, it's more about fat cats gambling to get fatter than it is about a shortage. No one seems interested in the misery they create.

Other Mary said...

Wow Brian - I like both very much. The gas prices hurt for sure. And it's sad the things our society values. Loved the pared down 55 too! Personally, I think your poetry is worth your weight in gold! (black gold and gold-gold)

Jenny Woolf said...

I too thought it was liquor too. It could be almost any kind of dependency . I think this was a very original take

She Writes Here Now said...

I know the sound of my wallet emptying like a straw slurping all too well :).

Brian, I miss your stories! Tenth Daughter?

xx amy

Mama Zen said...

I was struck by the same lines that Claudia quoted. Man, have I been there!

poeticlicensee said...

"...the road to hell is paved---
not with good intentions, but so that cars can drive on it"

That's one for all time remembrance...

joanna said...

i like both versions but i think the expanded version hits home a little truer for me-- especially with that road to hell line...

it will always be about the heart, no matter what CEOs or society'd have us believe. don't give up, b.

flaubert said...

I totally agree with this Brian. We are going through crazy times.


Teresa said...

I will be glad when I'm done teaching for the summer. I'll hibernate on the farm. I'd be happy to give up that addiction to traveling every day.

Cinner said...

Everything just keeps getting more and more costly and anxietys are running high. I agree where is the heart in it. I enjoyed this Brian...I don't play the slots but easy to feel it in life. have a great weekend.

Joanna Jenkins said...

You did a terrific job with this and generated a lot of interesting comments.

Enjoy the weekend. jj

Cheryl said...

Awesome rants!

ayala said...

The second one was personnel and spoke to me... A great capture of what so many are feeling these days. Nice piece, Brian .

Goofball said...

I suppose I get a pay raise every time the prices rise for my company car. I am fortunate and don't realise it most of the time