“Sorry to say,” he began,
“I’m an oil man.”
“So am I,” said the other.
They chewed their pork
comparing names
in thick Minnesotan accents.
Who knew who and
who did business
with this “sonna bitch”
or that guy,
“a real character.”

I spent the rest
of my meal staring out
at the desolate
North Dakota sprawl.
It’s my favorite
rolls of wheat
at sunrise like
a Van Gogh.
That there are
still places
in this world
that look like
“I’ll be damned.”

I listened to them
as they complained,
having to pay money
to clean up the messes
their business caused.
“That one roll-over was
six thousand dollars.”

“Six thousand dollars,”
an echo exclaimed
across the table, slamming a fist
and spilling a splash of coffee.

“It’s the law,” they laughed.
“The law,” cried the echo.
When a truck rolls over
spilling filthy frac water
or a thin film of oil
sprays over the land,
“there’s hell to pay.”

At the conclusion
of each having their own
they agreed to meet later
in their sleepers
to exchange business cards.

When the one asked me
for mine,
I lied,
telling him I didn’t have
a business card.
“I have no time,” I told him,
“for new business.”
I lied when I sat down
and he asked what I did.
“I build websites,” I said.

It wasn’t exactly a lie,
just a fracture in time;
who I was in a past life.
And besides,
it’s something an oilman
“Websites, the world needs

We stared at the same sunrise.
Where I saw oil paint,
he saw oil rigs.
He saw money. Queerly,
it was the same reaction
he’d have
looking at a Van Gogh.
“Beautiful, but
that right there;
needs an oil rig.”

The one who wanted my business card
because he was
“building his company’s web,”
he did not leave a tip.
He was the one who did not believe
in paying for the messes he makes
to be cleaned up.
It was somehow poetic
that he chose
to stiff the waitress.

Not a man I’d want to do business with.
Not a man I’d want to be honest with.
Not a man,
not a man;
not much,
an oilman.

written on 09/25/2015 by: Matt Kane