From Issue 13: Ode to Gasoline

George Longenecker
I love you— but I hate you.
You’ve always been so refined, and I like your aroma;
though you’re killing me, I have fond memories,
of your high octane brew; forget about CO2, oil spills—
gasoline, you and I have gone so many places.
We crossed the Kansas plains in my Triumph,
black oil pumps rocked gently,
sucked fossil fern from bedrock,
raw crude that took us
all the way to California.
You had pumps at every crossroads
I’d gas up and drive to escape city pollution
watch purple sunsets through dust and ozone haze
Janis Joplin singing
nothin’ left to lose.
I loved the wilderness and hated you,
but you took me everywhere;
now they blame it all on you, gasoline,
who filled my Karmann Ghia, my Datsun,
took us to Bryce, Zion and Yosemite.
I know you’re dangerous,
but my heart’s an engine
you’ve kept beating for so long.
Tell me, it can’t all be your fault—
crude on beaches, melting glaciers, hurricanes—
I want to inhale your fumes, hit the gas,
go west like nothing matters
except warm wind and a full gas tank.

George Longenecker taught history and writing at Vermont Technical College for many years. His recent poetry and book reviews have been published in Vermont Literary Review, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Isthmus, Poetry Quarterly, Rain Taxi and Saranac Review. He lives on the edge of the forest in Middlesex, Vermont.