A Planet’s Plea for Survival (tar sands pipeline to nowhere)

by Belinda Munoz on June 28, 2011


Wrinkled, charred and wounded,
I breathe labored breaths yet again
For another day of
Hopeful healing.

The air, thicker now than long ago,
Scented with your past offenses,
Taunting me with thoughts
Of cleansing wholeness once again.

Your plea for forgiveness,
Once-upon sincerity,
Echoes of empty cries,
In pools of tar sands drowning.

Your insatiable cravings
For barrels of mega- XL proportions
Fast track this transaction
A most dire blood transfusion.

And a final full-blast gush
Down the pipeline to extinction,
remnants of my lungs collapsed.

“The environmental impacts of tar sands development include: irreversible effects on biodiversity and the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal Forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife particularly bird and Caribou migration, fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities”…..”Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over.” — Dr. James E. Hansen is director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

The environmental community is up in arms about the impending approval of building the 1600-mile Keystone XL, a pipeline to transport tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries. A group of U.S. and Canadian environmentalists circulated a letter inviting everyone to march in front of the White House starting in mid-August until the administration listens.


Does the economic need to create new jobs justify the building of Keystone XL and all the environmental impact that goes with it?
What about the prospect of reducing the U.S.’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil?

For One Shot Wednesday, Happy first birthday, One Stop Poetry!

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ayala June 28, 2011 at 7:46 am

Belinda, a beautiful poem. Thank you for bringing attention to this very important issue.


2 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri June 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

Haunting imagery in this poem. It is a relevant and powerful issue that centers around consumption. Unless we are willing to consume less, our dependence on the Middle East will always be present. I believe my answer to your question is simple, but I really think the solution is to alter our overall philosophy about consuming material products. If demand decreases, independence becomes more of a possibility.


3 Sara Healy June 28, 2011 at 8:42 am


I love how you combine your poetry with global awareness. Your poetry powerfully delivers the message in it’s simplicity. You don’t preach, but leave me with an emotional push — not a shove, just a push — that makes me stop and really THINK about your words and our environment.

I have questions in answer to your question: Why is it that we can’t seem to find the funding for renewal and clean sources of energy? Could we not hire people to work on these projects, instead of Keystone XL?


4 Belinda June 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Thanks, Sara. Wish we could get soem truthful answers to your excellent questions.


5 Erin Strain June 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

Thank you for sharing your creativity on this topic. Keystone XL has thus far been an intentionally quiet campaign on an expedited path in the hopes of bypassing public comment. The complex consequences of such a pipeline begin with the tar sands. The destruction happening at the tar sands is devastating. If anyone involved in making the decision to approve the Keystone XL project would drink water from a tap in the tar sands region or would applaud the pipeline running through their community, please step forward.


6 Belinda June 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

It takes some awareness-building and many people talking and asking questions to really grasp how greenhouse gas emissions affect all of us wherever we are in the world.
Dr. Hansen estimates that opening up access to the tar sands will result in adding 200 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 to the atmosphere — on top of the current 390 ppm. We’ve already exceeding the highest possible safe level that will preserve a world we would recognize which is 350 ppm.


7 Lauren Davis June 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

Belinda, this poem is chilling. The metaphor between the destruction of our planet and of ourselves is incredibly powerful. There is such a need for more discussion that illuminates the direct impact our insatiable energy appetite is having on human life.

There are even more opportunities for job creation with renewable energy! Eventually, we will exhaust the supply of fossil fuels and the jobs associated with it will dry up as well. I think one of the most important questions to ask is how do we create the political will to transform our energy economy?


8 Belinda June 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Excellent question, Lauren. We have got to change our ways.


9 ayala June 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I love sara’s comment because I love how you bring out awareness to global and social issues with such grace and a voice that people want to listen to.


10 Cathy June 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm

So moving Belinda. I was not aware of the issue surrounding tar sands. In fact, I don’t even know really what they are. Thanks (again) for raising my awareness to these global issues. I think that your writing and blog are so important because of the awareness you spread, and the beauty in how you spread it. Not preachy – beautiful.


11 Heaven June 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Terrific post… thanks for bringing this to our attention.

I feel like choking those people ~

Nice to meet you


12 brian miller June 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

great awareness piece…ugh the things we do to our home, for what? ugh


13 Kim Nelson June 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

As I read this, I couldn’t help but think that the world is aging much like I am. What part of this is the natural sequence of events? What part is lack of care? Interesting to ponder.


14 mrs mediocrity June 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

powerful stuff, really made me stop and take a pause. beautiful music in your poem, wrapped around a serious subject.


15 Monika June 29, 2011 at 3:48 am

How thoughtful of you present the issue before us, and so well, so beautiful. I loved the imagery.


16 hedgewitch June 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

Thanks for raising your voice on this issue. The poem as a pure poem is excellent, but gains through the added meanings. Marching in front of the White House is about all we can do, but I don’t have much hope that this administration is anything but a rubber stamp for corporate interests from Wall Street to the oilfields.


17 Claudia June 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

i love your political poems and i love that you lend your voice to our planet belinda..great write


18 Mama Zen June 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

Really powerful writing. They certainly are keeping this pipeline quiet, aren’t they?


19 Glynn June 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

You use poetry to explicate the news, and tell a story int he process. Good one.


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