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Tank or tailpipe?

entry picture

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.

climate changePollutioncars

◄ Bike

Rolling down to London ►


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