Monday, June 2, 2008

4 Buck Gas

Painting by Rick Mobbs

Four Buck Gas

This morning
I stood in the pre-dawn chill
and pumped 4-buck gas
into my pick up.

Suddenly consumed
with unspeakable anger,
I shook my free fist
at the Shell sign—
standing there tall
and sullen
and silent,
arrogantly golden
its $4.15
for regular gas

I thought about
The Bush War
and what it is costing
and about the fat cat
oil barons
who hang out with Junior
swilling Lone Star
and counting their tax-free

The New Millennium Crusades
suddenly swam belligerently
into my cortical net,
witnessing Bush stir up
the Muslim wasp nest,
sending our youth
into harm’s way
to face the barbs and stingers,
RPG’s, roadside explosions,
and suicide bombers
who themselves
are barely old enough
to enjoy
the promised 100 virgins
in Jihad Paradise.

A few yesterdays ago
there we were
post 9-11 in 2003,
wanting to strike back,
wanting revenge
for the terrible toppling of our towers,
and the callous crushing
of the innocent thousands,
as death was brought to us
on our own silver wings,
diving and plunging
straight down,
laden with high-pitched screams
from jet engines pushed to full throttle
and passengers hoarse from fear.

Something had to be done.
Who could we punish?
Who could we kill
to satiate our blood lust?
George W. Bush, Jr.
and all his father’s posse
smiled like hyenas
in a silent pack,
and their greedy index fingers
pointed back,
straight at Iraq;
telling us repeatedly
that right there was the heart
of darkness,
the den of murderers,
the scourge of the earth;
plotters, terrorists, and enemies—
that Bush was ready
to lead us
into a holy war
that would finish the job
left undone by his daddy
in 1991—
that as righteous patriots
we should take on
the rag tag Republican Army
and run that ruthless fox,
Saddam Hussein,
to ground;
for he was a madman,
an abuser of human rights,
a killer,
a dictator,
a womanizer,
a sodomizer;
and not only
did he absolutely possess
weapons of mass destruction,
but he fully intended
to send unmanned squadrons
of drones
to our eastern shores,
that were fully laden
with biological germ warfare payloads.

75 senators were duped, cajoled,
and convinced,
thus launching
Operation Iraqi Liberation;
soon to morph into
Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During the one month assault,
we overran Hussein’s finest troops
like shooting coyotes
from horseback,
and it only cost us
139 American lives.
was on the commander’s lips,
followed by,
“Let’s stick around a while now,
and assist the Iraqis into forging
a Democracy.”

We all recall
the smirking grin
and lying eyes
of warmonger
Donald Rumsfeld;
and that late afternoon
five years ago this May
on the USS Abraham Lincoln,
when Commander in Chief,
President Bush
emerged from a fighter
wearing a flight suit,
stood spread-legged on the naked steel deck,
waving his thunder bolt helmet
and declaring,
“Mission Accomplished!”

And presently
here we are,
knee deep in Year 5,
fighting “asymmetric warfare”,
without front lines,
against a faceless enemy
that hides in
and melts into
the civilian population;
just like before
in 1964—
except now we are immersed in
and surrounded by
civil war and insurgency,
as we are being branded
the Occupying Force,
once again;
spilling blood for greed
and democracy—
being taught hard lessons;
like we cannot curtail
the flow of Jihad insurgents
by cutting the head off the Hydra,
or its whelps,
or its lieutenants—
for new warriors
spring like cockroaches from the shadows,
craving to join the resistance
to the Infidels and Capitalists,
arriving in dark clumps daily,
like monsters rising out of the blood-soaked
waters of the Tigris and Euphrates—
making us pay
every day
for patrolling
the Sunni Triangle.

Oh God,
when will the madness end?
How much black gold
has to be pumped
into profit
from the Iraqi
fat oil reserves?
How many more
retired Special Forces
will have to be recruited
by Blackwater
to protect Bush’s
real agenda?

The numbers for Y5
are staggering!
U.S. dead: 4,079.
U.S. wounded: 30,000.
Contractors dead: 1,028.
Contractors wounded: 10,569.
Iraqi death toll: 1,000,000.
Iraqi combatants dead: 10,800.
Insurgents dead: 22,807.
Detainees: 43,000.

Like in the 60’s
when the carnage
in Viet Nam
was broadcast to us daily,
splashing red and futile
on our living room television screens—
our forced occupancy
of Iraq
is beamed immediately by satellite
to every home,
for all of us to see
and cringe
as the pride of our loins
are kicking down doors
and pumping hot lead
from their Mossberg shotguns
into the Islamic populous—
are being ambushed
around every corner,
green zone or not;
witnessing the riddling
of those poorly armored Humvees,
those High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles,
with bullets bought in black markets,
originally manufactured by us
and sent to Saddam
when it was his job
to fight the Iranians
for us.

Our young men
and women,
do their duty,
without hesitation,
becoming hard-hearted
and stone-jawed—
even though many of them
may be stop-lossed
or extended
by their loving government
to stay
in the fray;
professional targets,
standing atop
an M1 Abrams battle tank,
or racing down some dangerous narrow alley
in their M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle,
or screetching through those
mean Moslem streets in Strykers—
the dead brown skies above
with Apaches, Kiowa Warriors, Black Hawks, and Chinooks—
the dirty twilight punctuated
by the deep throb
of dozens
of .50 caliber lethal heavy machine guns—
patrols partially protected
by howling M249 SAWS.

Yes, Lord,
we see it all;
and feel overwhelmed
with intense grief and anguish
as this cavalcade of cavalry and contractors
are at this very moment
toiling in the acrid white dust
of the Middle East,
providing the opportunity
for the petroleum bullies
to force me
to have to pump their goddamn
4 buck gas,
and shake my inept fist
at a stupid sea shell,
and snarl terribly
at those barons unseen,
but most certainly

Glenn Buttkus June 2008


rick said...

Hey Glenn, I love what you have done with this. I have been hoping someone would jump on it and relate it to the war. (Hence the title, Stupid War).

It would be great if you could link the writing or the images back to my blog so others could discover what else we have there. Thanks, Rick

Anonymous said...

this poem is exactly what I was looking for when I put the picture out
there. I am going to offer the picture (or another like it) as
Thursday's prompt to see what else come in as you have been the only
one to pick up on it so far. I love the articulation of your anger and
the way you ground it in facts of your observation. My rage at the war
and the Bush administration is mostly inarticulate, hence the
pictures, I guess. Your poem is really useful to me personally, so
thank you. Please write again if you are so moved.
Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn, A huge THANKYOU for your contribution to reason and awareness! You have single handedly broken me free from my numbness. Your most recent poem captures so many powerful feelings about what currently goes on. I wish to share this with our reading group which meets at the Mandolin restaurant on Monday nights. Would you also give me permission to forward your work to Prof. Mark Jensen our "Digging Deeper" leader who might send your email on to quite a large number of politically minded folks in the area including the Pierce County Peace Activist Group - web site Dick

Anonymous said...


DAMN truth

Thank you for your POEM,


Anonymous said...

Have to admit that this is one of your best pieces!!! You pretty well captured my frustrations…I wish I could have been there when you were pumping that $4 dollar gas!!

Thanks for sharing…. Bud

Anonymous said...

Hey Glenn, a right nice piece of work!

Cheerfully, Roger

Anonymous said...


It feels good to rail against the wickedness of the powerful and raise our fists against injustice. Thank you for your passionate poem. It does stir the juices of the mind and heart!

Susan G.

Lane Savant said...

God, remember back in the day when we would ride around in Lucille and scratch up a couple of bucks to put 5 gallons of 15 cent gas in the tank and four or five similarly priced burgers in our guts and have a hell of a time?
You know back when Roy Cohn and his girl friend Joe McCarthy were on the hook of the KGB trying to find "Commies" everywhere but where they were?
When where they were they were was stealing H-bomb secrets?
Nothing has changed since then really.
Nothing has changed since Thucidides told us about the slag, scum and shit that inevitably floats to the surface of any great ape society.

All we've got is each other, gang.

Rick, Susan, Bud, Anonymous, where are your sites?

Which one of you is the CIA?

Anonymous said...

In this poem, Glenn Buttkus
( recounts an
epiphany experienced on a recent morning at the local Shell station as
he "pumped 4-buck gas/into my pick-up."[1] -- The vision he
experiences leads him to "and shake my inept fist/at a stupid sea
shell,/and snarl terribly/at those barons unseen,/but most
certainly/felt." -- Thanks to Dick Mansfield for sending this and
Glenn Buttkus for permission to post. --Mark Jenson

butch said...

The actual reason that many of the comments that show up here are labeled "anonymous" is that I am transferring them in from other comments sections on other sites that I blog on, as well as my own personal email. Not everyone has a chance to spend the time to find this blog site, so when they make comments RE my poetry or other writings, I include it here, endeavoring to create a cohesive look at the plethora and full spectrum of responses. Since I am transferring them, with their names on them, I thought it would be odd if 90% of the comments had my pic and logo on them. Probably another way to do it, but I am too uncomputer savvy to know it.


Anonymous said...

Great poetry. Intense, raw, & honest. Thank you Glenn & thanks to Mark &
Dick for sending it !


Anonymous said...

Mr. Buttkus: Just finished reading your great poem about $4 gasoline-tremendous writing-thank you.

Sincerely, Bill Trembley

Anonymous said...

It's not a poem you wrote; it's an epic! Good work.


Anonymous said...

***Transfered from POETMEISTER:

I’m also thrilled that you’ve learned of Rick Mobbs through my blog. He’s just wonderfully multi-talented and so generous with his intellectual property. I did notice what you did with Rick’s painting Stupid War with your “Four Buck Gas” which I posted in its entirety on Poetmeister 4 Poets! It’s excellent! You’ve captured the frustration, angst, and impatience that a lot of people feel about this whole issue, Glenn! I’m looking forward to more of your input to Rick’s work. He certainly does inspire many of us to higher levels of creativity, that’s for sure!

Janet Leigh