by Paul Chubbuck

In the dream I have two tank cars full of raw petroleum.
How this came to be is secret and suspicious,
but no one challenges, the gunk is mine.

The question is, what now?

The sticky, black sludge is an appalling mess on land or sea,
terrible to rid from hands and face,
and toxic if consumed.

No one wants it as it is.

Yet hidden inside—an invisible vapor which burns hot with a smokeless flame.

If I can extract the one from the other, I shall be a wealthy and a satisfied man.

For days, I summon all I know of physics and chemistry from school and books.
Distillation is the key. That’s not so hard.
It needs fire,
the proper vessel,
a means to collect the distillate.

It can be done, even if I must learn to blow glass.

Then to chill the gas to liquid for storage.
I gather refrigeration units from junkyards,
and solder copper tubing.

It’s time to test.
The flame heats,
the black oil boils.
At the end of the coils, the pure gas puffs forth.
I light a match.
It ignites, burns steadily and clean, and proves my process.
Many steps, each separately do-able.

Now to put them together…in the proper sequence.

I can do this.

Do you have private questions about the body-mind connection or about recovering from trauma, loss, or abuse? Click here to leave me a private message.

Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing® to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at

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