Where My Yard Used to Be

from by Sam Steffen



This morning I woke to the sound of a blast
“Who’s there? Who’s there? Who is it?” I asked
A man was outside wearing some kind of mask
Said he was with Halliburton Oil and Gas

He gave me a paper which he asked me to sign
What is it? I asked him, he said, “Nevermind,”
Said if I just put my name down on yon dotted line
Ten thousand dollars could be instantly mine

I was still a bit groggy but it sounded alright to me
I signed his paper and I went back to sleep
And when I awoke I wanted to shriek
They drilled a hole on my property 10,000 feet deep

Now where my yard used to be there’s an oil field there
They tell me I signed it away fair and square
But now I can’t drink my water and I can’t breathe my air
Please Mr. Gas-man
Is it just that you don’t know
What you’re doing—or that you don’t care?

Well I made several inquiries and asked for a report
About this hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short
And when I tried to protest, to make them cease and abort
They laughed and just told me they’d see me in court

Shortly thereafter I realized my mistake
When they turned my pond into a gasoline lake
I wish someone had told me bout the risk I would take
That the losses would outweigh the money I’d make

Now oil companies claim that its cheap, and what’s more
we don’t have to rely on foreign oil anymore
but as time passes by you can’t fail to ignore
that gas is two bucks a gallon, but now fresh-water costs four

and where my fields used to be, there’s an oil-field there
and where my woods used to be, there’s an oil-field there
and you can’t drink the water and you can’t breathe the air
please Mr. Gas-man
is it just that you don’t know
what you’re doing—or that you don’t care?

and if you’re inclined to think it ain’t as bad as it sounds
you ought to check on the chemicals they’re putting into your ground
ethyl-methyls, and sulfates, in lethal amounts
plus 500 others I can’t even pronounce

Now the trees that once grew here have all been cut down
The air, once so clean, now looks dirty and brown
the birds all flew off, the fishes all drowned
next thing you know, it’ll be me skipping town

and tell me, what will you do when your well’s overdrawn?
When you’ve lost what you’ve built your tomorrows upon?
When you finally realize all along you’ve been wrong?
Tell me where will you go when our planet is gone?

When, where the earth used to be, there’s an oil-field there?
When you finally realize that you haven’t a spare?
I’ll ask you in hope, and I’ll plea in despair:
Please, Mr. Gas man,
Is it just that you don’t know
What you’re doing—or that you don’t care?

Now I don’t know about you, what your tomorrows are worth
If you think it’ll get better before it gets worse
But when you damage the planet, everyone hurts
And you’re killing the future by destroying the earth

Now the gas and oil companies are rolling in wealth
But they need your permission to keep spreading their filth
So if they ask, in the interest of keeping your health,
Say: you can’t frack my land, you can go frack yourself!



from Ain't It a Pity?, released July 31, 2016



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Sam Steffen Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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