Trial Balloon

Bring Your Junk!

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 27, 2010 by Dale Connelly (39 Comments)
Filed under: Poetry

I've looked at animations and read through descriptions of the BP oil well jamming procedure now underway, injecting "heavy mud" into the feed pipes - a process known as "top kill". I understand the simplest explanations ("It's like trying to intentionally block up a toilet") and am baffled by much of the rest.

I've heard that if this doesn't work, the next step is to try to pack the leak with chunky debris - a "junk shot". I certainly get that. I know all about junk, having worked to accumulate tons of it through most of my life. In fact, I'm excited by the idea because it creates a rare opportunity in our throw-away culture - the chance to dispose of some useless things heroically.


To seal an oil well underwater
You will need some heavy fodder.
Start with thick and gooey mud
Then pack it full of extra crud.

Softballs, chunks of worn out tire

Spools of unused speaker wire.

Costume jewelry, plated gold 

and all the Chryslers still unsold.

Every bit of spare debris

should come, enthusiastically

from anyone who rides in cars.

For this calamity is ours.

DVD's you didn't watch.

Old tapes - video and Scotch.

Carpet scraps and mailing tubes.

Open board games. Rubik's Cubes.

Empty out your basement clutter
Every golf club. That damn putter.
Piles of Christmas cookie tins.
We'll plug the gusher with our sins.

From physicians - rubber hammers 

Plus their awkward beside manners.
From the stoners - bongs and joints

And from spin doctors? Talking points.


And still the void cries out for more. 

We've never gone this deep before.
So to the hungry wellhead bring
Our excess wretched everything!

Lawyers! Give us spite and greed!
(you've got extra, guaranteed).
TV stars could spare some vanity. 

NASCAR drivers, their insanity. 


Commentators? All your scorn!
Webmasters! Unload your porn.
From farmers take redundant crops

From Lady Gaga? Unused props.


Gather up each proud and smug
opinion for this oily plug.
Can written nonsense trigger clogs?
Try stupid, pointless rhyming blogs.

Then pile it all into the sea

And with the profits from BP

We'll force this cocktail down the tube

To plug the hole that leaks the crude.

What sort of useless debris could you contribute to the cause?


Comments (39)

Great poem, Dale. You're my candidate for Poet Lariat of the US. "Can written nonsense trigger clogs? Try stupid, pointless rhyming blogs."

Joanne -- I'm trying to understand why anyone would want to see a photo of my cabin (as per your suggestion yesterday). If you had the biggest kegger party in the history of Wisconsin and then told the survivors to quit hurling long enough to build a cabin, you'd get my cabin. The man who built it summed it up as "a bad design, poorly executed." As a description of the structure, that is probably flattering, although the location is a piece of heaven.

I have a basement full of shotshells with lead shot, now banned in many areas, so I cannot use them. But it is a creepy notion that we'd plug that volatile leak with things built to explode. From my outdoor magazine days I have thousands of 35 mm slides in which I'm holding up the carcass of a pheasant, goose or bluegill. We could plug a big leak with them and the world, believe me, would not be poorer for not having seen them.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 27, 2010 6:22 AM


Good morning all. Well I have plenty of junk - scraps of wood, empty containers, useless books. I could go on and on, but I would have trouble parting with much of it becausr I always think the first thing I throw out will some how suddenly become something I need.

Posted by Jim | May 27, 2010 6:28 AM


Good morning, all.

My friend from Alabama called me last weekend. He was telling me how laughable the idea of cleaning up this mess really was and that the whole gulf coast had essentially been ruined, including property and industries that provided jobs.

There's plenty of useless debris at my house. Anything that isn't too large to carry by myself could be gathered up from my basement and used.

Posted by elinor | May 27, 2010 6:29 AM


I won't even "go there" as they say...you mihgt have to demolish my house and just haul the whole thing south...but the view, now that they can't have...hummingbirds have arrived and are humming about the Caragena flowers.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | May 27, 2010 6:47 AM


Greetings! Steve, I think you have me mixed up with Clyde -- I think he was the one asking for a picture so he could paint it. I might do an interpretive dance for you, though.

Junk for the black hole of the oil well would include TVs, obsolete computers, old printers and scanners that no longer work and all those good intentions to paint and redecorate that I never get around to doing. Oh, and all those darn toys from when the kids were younger that I spent way too much money on.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 27, 2010 6:48 AM


I have an assortment of toys that have been grown out of (but that can't yet be parted with by Darling Daughter). I got rid of two boxes by convincing Daughter that they would go to a kid I knew who would enjoy them (true) - that made it easier to have a specific place they were going. Maybe I could get her to part with the hand-me-down plastic house if she knew it was going to a good cause...

Posted by Anna | May 27, 2010 7:36 AM


The master ans every known print of Letter sot Juliet.

Steve, it was Donna wanting to see your cabin. That is your cabin in the pix you sent me, right?

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 7:40 AM


dale, this is a good one. a poem to remember. your inclusion of the lawyers greed and the tv vanity gives me inspiration. i have lots of thiings along those lines to contribute. i ahve long searched to make my slot a useful piucomodity. it is my least favorite of the seven deadly sins or at least the one i am least comfortable owning. i would be happy to contribute all my sloth, i still have my envy wrath gluttony pride lust and greed to throw in for extra measure.

the oil leak is pulsing
on the deep ocean floor
and the wish of all man
is to have that no more

its our world the messing with
and our shores their wrecking
and they seem more concerned
with the order their pecking.

its really not bps fault
they don't even own the oil drill
they hired it done
their oil needs to fulfill

and the leak sorta happened
by accident, geeze
they didn't realy mean to
forgive them folks please

it only a matter of time
til its done
til the leak gets plugged up
and the clean ups begun

and then bp can show us their
what they plan to do
with all the stuff on our shores this black sticky goo

it will be with us for years
the shore will be dead
covered with remnants
of the leak that has bled

all over our shoreline
which we so took for granted
and now thats its gone
our memories are slanted

pristine white sand beaches
and great ocean fishing
and now all thats left
is to return to the past which we are wishin

those fine ocean marshes
with those sensative grasses
and the efforts to save them
from all mans trespasses

have come down to this
may as well give up the ghost
all those sea turtle eggs
are oil based toast

we'll go through the summer
and long bout september
bp will show us their colors
the way they'll be remembered

i'm betting its ugly
and the news will be sad
the shrimp fishing gone
and the gulf has turned bad

florida to texas
will be one giant
pity
and we will all look back
to when beaches were gritty

and not these slimey balled toxins
we will look at for years
an unnatural disaster
that will bring us to tears

so block it up quickly
get it done right
stop that oil cloud please
stop it up true and tight

then we can look sadly
where the coast used to be
before the unfortunate
slip by bp

there are no do overs
we have only one planet
we have mountaintops & oceans
that we all take for granted

let this be a lesson to others
how the world will judge
all the greed based transgressions
that turned our ocean to fudge

all the shrimp chocolate covered
and the fish covered too
and the herrons and grasses
replaced with black goo

bp how we hate you
and how you refuse
to own how you've cost us
by your mandated abuse.

to replace is too late.
lets have them do time
by studying how to
keep other places sublime


sorry rhers i got off on a tangent there and released a little angst.
wheeew. nothing changed but i feel a little better. thanks all

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 7:50 AM


Dale - have you already played "Trash, my baby leaves her trash all over the house?" (Is it the Bobs?)

Would my boxes of unused fabric help? Books on my last several passions? The collector plates and old albums sitting in the basement?

When I had my Space Wizard organizing/downsizing business, part of my job was to "disappear" the released stuff. I made plenty of trips to Goodwill, and had to cut stuff up to fit into the trash, but once in a while I scored something I thought I wanted to keep. I could probably send most of that stuff.

Anna, one way a kid will let go of the stuff is if you sell it at (your or someone else's) garage sale...

Steve - it sounds like a photo of your cabin would work for an Amateur Archeology day... even though it's already know what it is. Could be a new twist -- how did it get that way?

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 27, 2010 7:55 AM


Way to go, tim, with that poem.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 27, 2010 8:01 AM


Clyde -- You are right.

Barbara -- The cabin was built by someone who had never built anything before. He bought a lot of plywood panels and then asked himself, "How can I make a shelter out of these?" The answer was a two-story sixteen-sided structure that looks like an oatmeal carton.

Everyone cheer: Lily and Hope are back together (the famous bears).

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 27, 2010 8:04 AM


tim--one of my many travel books is about the people whose lives will be vastly harmed by this. Just thought of it but it is a home.

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 8:08 AM


steve what are the caragena flowers? i googled them to see if i could plant some for my hummingbirds but they didn't come up.
also send me your address info one more time to timjones2020@gmail.com and i will get the wolf check off this time for sure. it is a great coffee table book. i think i talked the family to a yellowstone trip this summer because of it.

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 8:13 AM


Forgot to say this: two nice poems today.
tim and all--I have, and have reread as I always do, a book called Bayou Farewll, by Mike Tidwell from spring of 2004, about all of the things ruining the bayous, before this. He travels with the locals of the Bayous. A human story.
I will share with whoever wants.
Steve--well it is photogenic, in the hands of a master like you. Two excellent photogs on here, you and elinor, doing two very different things with the technology of photography.

Posted by clyde | May 27, 2010 8:16 AM


Tim -- caragena flowers? Where did that come from? I wouldn't know one if it bit me. For hummer flowers, write or call the DNR Non-Game wildlife folks. My old buddy Carroll Henderson has written a relevant book.

Coffee table book? Them's fighting words!

Address coming.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 27, 2010 8:22 AM


clyde, i can't help but think of the people who live there and are going to have to figure out how to go forward. if bp was made to made to be responsible for all these people until a time when they could return to the life they had before it would be a start but these people and this chunk of the world are basically out of luck for this lifetime. i have similar feeling with all the production in china. bp not taking responsibility reminds me of chinas claiming they should not be held to our pollution standards because they are a third world nation. like the boys who killed their parents asking for mercy because they are orphans

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 8:23 AM


Dale/Mike (henceforth to be know as Dake, or should that be Mile?)--this is turning into a Marx Brothers day. Can you imagine a movie they would make about this? Do you have any Marx Bros songs? Cannot remember you playing one but then I cannot remember that my middle name is uh . . . ., well, nevermore.

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 8:26 AM


steve,
caragena flowers came form your earlier post. i will check out the carroll henderson book thanks. i do love my hummingbirds.
coffee table book is the way we do it here. we all have the attention span of gnats and the only way to introduce a new brain wave is to throw a book into our midst and let everyone pick it up and touch it and digest one bite at a time. i have seen your wolf book get more than a couple serious snags over the past couple of months. the only other way to get the next generation going is with an iphone app. you may want to look into it. i don't think wolves has much competition yet. a couple of ad sponsers and you could be off and running with royalties to buy more plywood for a second cabin

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 8:32 AM


lydia the tatooed lady

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 8:33 AM


Honey?? Where's the cooler? I'm cleaning out the freezer!

Posted by Ben | May 27, 2010 8:36 AM


Tim - the Caragena flowers was from Cynthia in Mahtowa's post -- not Steve. Just to clear that up ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 27, 2010 8:40 AM


cynthia is was thanks joanne
what are they cynthia?

Posted by tim | May 27, 2010 8:50 AM


Steve - The more I hear about this cabin the more I want to see it! I have a favorite tree in my back yard that's lost a bunch of limbs and is starting to look like something from outer space... maybe we could have a day of photo anomolies (?), not sure if that's the right word. Photo originals?

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 27, 2010 9:05 AM


"My favorite poem is the one that starts 'Thirty days hath September' because it actually tells you something."
"Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy."
"Wives are people who feel they don't dance enough."
"Before I speak, I have something important to say."
"Either he's dead or my watch has stopped."
"Anyone who says he can see through a woman is missing a lot."

Thanks for requesting Groucho Marx, Clyde! God love him. (Was he a believer?)

Great poems today, guys. God love you, too.

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 9:11 AM


Has everyone gone golfing today?? Just back from Wikipedia so I could answer my own question about Groucho. (Clyde, where are you when I need you?) There's a Star of David on his marker so he or somebody in his family must have had an affection for the Lord. There was also this hilarious note (to me at least) though not cited, about Groucho in his later years when he became friends with Elton John and they went to see a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. ...as the lights went down, Groucho called out, "Does it have a happy ending?" And during the Crucifixion scene, he declared, "This is sure to offend the Jews."

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 10:47 AM


Donna--The five brothers were Jewish, but as near as I know Groucho was a sort of disinterested agnostic/doubter. Harpo was a man of some faith. There is an excellent bio of Harpo. Grocho's kids wanted to ne Harpo's kids and that thye grew up pretty much at Harpo's they claim.

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 10:51 AM


Thanks Clyde! I'll look for the book.

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 11:08 AM


I just have to add this odd bit of trivia -- but Mahatma Gandhi, Groucho Marx and I all have our birthday on October 2. Isn't that just ~special~? Thought you might like to know ... :~)

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 27, 2010 11:35 AM


Joanne-- that is VERY special. And my birthday is just one day after yours. That explains why we're both great dancers.

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 11:45 AM


I was born the day the Battle of the Bulge started.
I should have said auto-bio "Harpo Speaks." He was apparently a delightful person.

Posted by Cly de Bulge | May 27, 2010 11:59 AM


A great feat to have lived in the public as long as Harpo did and mamange to never have his voice recorded.
Donna, I posted this yesterday:"She no doubt pictures Guy Williams. I will draw Henry Calvin."
FYI: Guy Williams played Zorro on TV in the late 50s. H. Calvin played the fat sergeant.

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 12:04 PM


Clyde - thanks for clarifying that. I wasn't sure who those folks were -- but I do vaguely remember the TV show "Zorro".

Donna - I've always pictured Carlos as a sort of Antonio Banderas-looking guy. Or else that guy in the Wintergreen ad during the winter on the MPR pages. Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 27, 2010 12:25 PM


I KNOW Clyde. I looked them up and could not come up with a good response other than to give you the virtual finger.

Joanne -- I think you're on to something. Maybe a mixture of those two.

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 12:54 PM


Joanne: I'm sure you have heard this. Outside of Mahatma Gandhi, a man's best friend is a book. Inside Mahatma Gandhi, it is too dark to read.

(Now imagine Groucho wiggling his eyebrows and taking a big puff on the stogie.)

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 27, 2010 1:58 PM


Steve - no, I haven't heard that one. Now just imagine me actually laughing at your lame joke ... ;~)

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 27, 2010 2:05 PM


A famous Grochoi story he denied: he asks a man in a uniform in fromt of a hotel to call him a taxi. The man says, "Sir, I am an admiral in the navy." Groucho says, "Well, then call me a battleship."
Real event: my partner John and I come out a hotel in Chicago after doing a big presentation and must rush to Midway. Am elegant looking Black man is standig there in a uniform with his back to us. John starts to address him,"Sir,I wonder if . . ." but I can see he is not the doorman. As he turns John sees it is a fireman's uniform, clearly a top-ranking man. John barely drops a beat and says ". . . if you could tell me the time. We need to rush to the airport."

Posted by Clyde | May 27, 2010 2:52 PM


Fun stories. Nice to have you back, Donna, and the rest of you later on in the day. I imagine Carlos with a little Omar Sharif in him...

Can't think of a Groucho story, but loved watching You Bet Your Life. And I vaguely remember Zorro, too, but not as well as Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger -- I still sometimes say "what's this We thing, Kemosabe?" to Husband at appropriate moments.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 27, 2010 3:36 PM


How about these Twins tonight, huh kids! Bottom of the 6th and they're ahead of the Yankees, 5-2.

Barbara - that Kemosabe line is rich. Your husband is a lucky man.

Posted by Donna | May 27, 2010 9:13 PM


I'm going to rant a little bit tonight, Donna, after everybody has quit posting/reading. I would not know how theTwins did!!! My TV connection has been out for two days and after my wife got up early (anything before 11 is early for her) and waited all day for the repair, they did not come. So I think I will call tomorrow and ask the person if she/her happened to watch the Twins since I couldn't. Apparently BUNDLE means what they take from you. There done.

Posted by Clyde in Mankato | May 27, 2010 10:26 PM


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