Skip to main content

The Walrus and the Oil Man: A parody of 'The Walrus and the Carpenter'

A poem about the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll in "Through the Looking-Glass".

The rig was drilling in the sea,
      Drilling with all her might –
She did her very best to pump
      The mud that makes it right –
Yet still there was a pressure change
      Near ten o’clock at night.

The sea had salty purity,
      The sparkling sands were dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
     The sun had quit the sky –
The pelicans flew off to bed,
      Politely passing by.

The Walrus and the Oil Man
      Colluded in First Class
When suddenly up rocketed
      A fireball of gas – 
Farewell the boat, farewell the crew,
      As for the sea – alas!

“If forty thousand janitors
      Each brought a paper cup,
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
      “That they could mop it up?”
“I doubt it,” said the Oil Man,
      So smartly clamming up.

The Walrus and the Oil Man
      Sailed on a month or two;
The oysters smiled and waved at them
      And shouted, “God bless you!”
And this was odd, considering
      The creeping toxic brew.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
      “To fault-find on these grounds:
On oystersships – and blown cement
      On permitting – and pounds
On accidents of Christmas Past –
      And how a dead whale sounds.”

“I weep for you,” the Man replied,
      “I deeply sympathize.
Big Oil loves all living things
      From large to smallest size!”
He turned to face the cameras
      With lightly streaming eyes.

“I drafted,” said the Oil Man,
      “A plan to guard the health
Of every walrus in this sea.”
      None grinned with tusky mouth –
And this was scarcely odd, because
      They don’t live in the South.

Poem by Tucker Lieberman, June 2010. Based on “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll in his book “Through the Looking-Glass,” 1872.)


A young loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) photographed near Panama City, Florida in 2011. Photo by NOAA. © public domain (taken by a U.S. government employee). Wikimedia Commons.

A walrus on the ice in Alaska's Bering Sea. (They don't live in the South.) Photo taken by Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps © public domain (taken by a U.S. government employee). Wikimedia Commons.

Poem originally posted to Helium Network on June 23, 2010.


Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia, leading to its defeat in 1936, but ultimately, Ethiopia retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36)The Victorian English spelling popular at t…

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity.Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be acc…

The most embarrassing 'Dr. Phil' episodes

Dog costumes, videotaped brawls: Embarrassing behavior aired on 'Dr. Phil'The "Dr. Phil" talk show addresses dynamics of dysfunctional relationships. Many of the problems people bring to the show can seem to embarrass them in the eyes of the viewers.This article was originally published to Helium Network on April 13, 2014. Dr. Phil McGraw, cover of Newsweek Magazine, 2001. Photo by Jerry Avenaim, WikiMedia Commons © Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic licenseDr. Phil is an American talk show host who brings together people in dysfunctional family relationships and makes them confront each other so that they can attempt to move their relationships through the impasse. The issues discussed on the show include rebellious teens, cheating spouses, drug use and violence, and when "talking it out" is not enough, Dr. Phil's team may offer a gift of inpatient rehabilitation or another appropriate psychological service…