Alberta’s Story

Like all of them they oiled their words with promises;
in those early days they came with slurry blenders,

equipment that pumped at staggering pressure.
Proppants deployed, backed up with explosive fluids

to get in real deep, to breach cracks in the deepest
formations of our rock. Hydraulic fracturing agents

pinned the tight chalks open until gases streamed out.
We felt the vein-filled shale split beneath us – seismic,

it rattled every disc in our spines. Too many stresses
triggered miniature earthquakes; with one awkward thrust

connate waters flooded through subterranean chambers,
every rib split as hydrochloric acid flushed out vital fibre.

In the mornings we woke to foul lakes of tailings, viscous
aggregates of metal: zirconium, antimony, titanium salts.

When the earth stopped moving, our hollowed-out bodies
were blasted: bones rattle like matchsticks, every cough

froths with toxic sand. It took only one unguarded frack
to contaminate our lifeblood, to turn all our rivers black.

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of the collective group Poets For The Planet. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s one of four prize-winning poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. He’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize.
Contact: twitter @julianbpoet