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Thursday, June 28, 2007


by James Penha

Since May 2006, more than 15,000 people in the Sidoarjo district of Java have been displaced by the hot mud flowing from a natural gas well being drilled by Lapindo Brantas, an oil well company. While some scientists have speculated that the earthquake that struck Yogyakarta two days before the well erupted may have cracked the ground, others have suggested that the company’s drilling procedure was faulty. Some 125,00 cubic metres of hot mud continue to erupt every day. Scientists suggest that the eruption may be a mud volcano impossible to stop.

The Company smelled gas in Sidoarjo,
licked its lips,
whetted the borehole,
and forced its fist through the county’s reserve
until it came:

from the bowels of the earth a geyser of mud gushing from
and by now become Sidoarjo: no villages but
a stinking tsunami, no paddies but
steaming pools of mud, no hatcheries but
glowing mud tributaries, no one but
this immortal volcano of mud

monster released, relentless blob

the Company calls a natural
disaster: the island's

James Penha edits The New Verse News. A new collection of his expatriate poems, No Bones to Carry, is due out from New Sins Press this summer. Info at