Ectoplasmic tar conjured
through sands, machinic taunts.
Creeping in weeds, filling guts:
abundance to dehydrate.
Summoned by a dowsing
signal to hunt and devour;
injecting mud instead of water
to smooth the eager swallow.

Hallowed ground a
disturbed graveyard, fossils
lost to manufactured veins.
An unmaking sticky
with spectral grease,
haunted cracks,
revenant whispers:
which way is the heart?

A trace transitioned
from residue to ghost-
a black shimmer floating
amongst the brine and soil.
Leaking sludge onto concrete,
still slick by design. Parting
feathers to wax the skin.
Greasing pores. Becoming flesh.

Fuelling travel and
warming houses
with malefic pasts.
Interlacing wells and
interiors, crude oil with
chromosomes; an inverted                                                                                               synthesis with resurrection,
all viscous to the touch.

Invasion seduces,
but desecration echoes.
So can we mine a spectre’s smear, its reach?                                                                Or are we tangled in cyclical hauntings                                                                       that tempt, spread, torture?

Our cannibalistic cravings grow; we soak                                                                      up the mess. Our hair a matted mop
when ambition bleeds








       and mixeswithpulses.

Defile petroleum with hunger.
Replace lifeblood with trauma.

. . . We’re just missing the


                      t         andthe

              e                                        s

       e                                               p

t                                                       i



to    seal    it     in     bone.


Biography for “S(pe[c]tro)philia”

As we continue to inhabit a geologically terrifying world, the supernatural seems far more familiar—especially given our daily walk among ghosts. With traces of radioactive isotopes from Trinity’s 1945 nuclear explosion still present in “the layers of the planet’s marine and lake sediments, rocks, and glacial ice” (Waters et al. 47), for example, eco-spectres are irrevocably enmeshed within our existence and our biological composition. Inspired by Timothy Morton’s Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence and Fritz Leiber’s short story “The Black Gondolier,” “S(pe[c]tro)philia” moves between concrete form and lyric poetry to explore the intimate entanglements humans possess with the non-human, particularly when thinking about the crude oil that pulses beneath our feet. Rather than viewing petroleum as something consciously malignant as Leiber does, “S(pe[c]tro)philia” considers the impulse to extract, and the consequential scars of such an invasion, as a convoluted exchange in which humanity enters and haunts itself in a twisted encounter.

Works Cited

Leiber, Fritz. “The Black Gondolier.” The Black Gondolier and Other Stories, edited by John Pelan and Steve Savile, Open Road Media, 2014, pp. 5-33.

Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. Columbia UP, 2018.

Waters, Colin N., et al. “Can Nuclear Weapons Fallout Mark the Beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 71, no. 3, 2015, pp. 46-57.


Published in filling Station and Poetry Pause, Elysha Snider lives in Alberta.

This poem “S(pe[c]tro)philia” originally appeared in Poetics and Extraction 2 Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 253 (2023): 151-153.

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