Tank or tailpipe?
There was a man lived down my street
who felt unease about pollution.
Ashamed to see his car excrete
bad air, he found an odd solution.
Others who had thought thus far
used bicycles, or electric cars
but my neighbour’s mate was the man who sold
the fuel his thirsty motor drank.
He was fearful this friend’s business might fold
if he stopped putting petrol in the tank.
So this free spirit, he took a different course:
he put a cork in his exhaust.
At first it seemed to work quite well,
a problem solved at bargain price,
but noticing a noxious smell
one day he asked me for advice.
“You’ve blocked the pipe,” I said “but perhaps
the fumes escape through other gaps?”
He set to work to put things right,
stupidity being the force that propelled him.
All day long, till late at night
I heard the sound of furious welding.
Daylight came and my neighbour revealed
that every crack and leak was sealed.
How proud he looked as he drove away
in a car that was truly Zero Emission.
But I fancied the valves made a curious bray
and a screaming noise came from the pistons
as if the engine were overloaded.
How right I was - the car exploded!
When he was out of intensive care
I talked to him once, while out campaigning
for a party I serve. I found him aware
of many dilemmas the world’s sustaining.
We chin-wagged on war and soaring prices,
and then moved on to the climate crisis.
I said our government’s policy stank:
permitting new wells and mines to thrive.
“It’s like putting petrol in the tank
then asking drivers not to drive.
They’ll find a loophole. Why haven’t we learnt
once it’s out of the ground, it’s gonna be burnt?”
“No no!” my neighbour said, “You’re wrong -
we need to sell more fossil fuels
to keep the national economy strong -
we’ll just make cuts in what we use.”
I rolled my eyes - he still endorsed
stuffing a cork up the exhaust.