Hot Sheet

Fracking opponent and supporter get poetic on Twitter about drilling risks, benefits

Author: Ernest Luning - December 8, 2017 - Updated: December 8, 2017

A pump jack works off state highway 119 near Firestone, Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

A pair of #copolitics Twitter accounts threw down Friday in an impromptu, virtual poetry slam about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing — the polarizing practice of pumping pressurized fluid deep into the ground to free up fossil fuels.

First, the anonymous Twitter account  Piceance Watchdog — named after Northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin, which holds vast quantities of natural gas in its shale rock — posted a series of stanzas titled “Ode to a Fracking Job.”

An homage of sorts to John Keats and his iconic Ode to a Grecian Urn, the verse depicts an idyllic scene overtaken by toxins, trucks and other industrial clatter, the fracking operation’s abandoned pipes eventually leaking, ending in a deadly explosion.

Here’s the entire poem:

Ode to a Fracking Job

Thou still unravish’d plot of quietness,
Thou farmers-field of silence and slow time,
Sylvan pastures, who canst thus await
A high-pressured injection of chemicals and sand:
What flow-back’d fluids try thus to escape?

Of toxins or salines,or of both,
In Suburbs or the playgrounds of Erie?
What trucks or machinery are these?
What trashy screens erected high?
What mad pursuit? What methane escapes?
What pipes and hoses? What chemistry?

Heard sounds horrific, but those unheard
Are worse still; therefore, ye leaky pipes, spill on;
Your “historic” releases, seep and spread,
Pipe to the tank farm of no more:
Fair youth, in their homes, go Boom.
Thy song, can never more be heard.

In response, Sean Paige, the communications director for the Colorado Senate Republicans — who stresses the opinions expressed in his Twitter account are strictly his own — penned what he called a “fracking-friendly Haiku” and tweeted it back at the fracking foe. While Paige’s version of haiku differs from the usual form, it has the customary sparse, evocative quality of the classical Japanese poem.

Paige’s lines:

Here’s fracking-frendly Haiku I wrote this morning:

Lights go on
almost like magic
heat too, while angry winter rages outside.
Whom should we thank
for such daily miracles?

We’ll update this post if any other poets weigh in. #copoetics, anyone?

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.