Road Poems


I learned a new vocabulary in North Dakota:  Bakken, fracking, horizontal drilling, man camps…and I read about production forecasts of more than a 1,000,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken formation “oil patch.”   While we were there, the papers reported that ND has moved ahead of Alaska and behind Texas to be the number two oil producing state.  The population of the state is just 640,000, so there’s a huge influx of people needed, especially to drive trucks. 

We were in the Southern Unit of Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  Ground zero for the Bakken is further north.  But, we still got a taste of the volume of traffic and met a few of the workers, who were living in their trucks.  The infrastructure – roads, housing, schools, sheriffs – can’t keep up.  McDonald’s is offering a $300 bonus to new employees and teachers and nurses are abandoning their jobs for the oil fields.  It’s truly a boom and a boon for businesses and start ups.  As for the environment..well, if the Bakken was on the coast of California, I bet more people would know about it.  If you’d like to know more, here’s a good blog to follow:

The Bakken

There’s grassland out in Dakota.

that’s no match for the patch below

that flares on the edge of TR’s park

and send the Elk deep into the dark.


Men come for work and camp in their trucks,

leaving their daughters to frack some water,

crack open the shale to get at the oil.

And the drills dig out and the rigs just toil


24/7 on the bison’s view of the pews  

of the sacred rocks of the Sioux, now dead.

Yeah they never got their due, but we’ll get oil

in exchange for the land now spoiled.




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