by Linda Jackson Collins

On the way to my mailbox, I glimpse
my neighbor heading toward his.
He’s shoeless and shirtless, sunshine
beaming off his pale, silver-haired chest and
wrinkled, white shorts – real shorts, not
boxers, thank God. There’s no reason
he shouldn’t be undressed like this
in his own driveway but still I’m shocked,
having only ever seen him wearing
super-person clothes such as surgical scrubs
or full-dress blues. It’s only now I realize
how I’d taken comfort in his sturdy,
next-door competence, presuming
that a man who sews people up,
who “sustained forward presence,”
could save everyone around.
That’s a lot to put on a guy, I know,
and now I’m feeling queasy like I do
when I consider all those Suits seated
in Glasgow, quibbling over words
and degrees and dollars and gasses,
when what I want to know is: who’s
going to make sure no more polar bears
float adrift on iceberg chunks? Who will splice
live coral fragments onto dying reefs?
It won’t be Boris or John or Ursula or
Felix in their tailored jackets and
button-down shirts. Maybe Greta,
if only they’d put her in charge.
But she, slight of build, long of braid,
in her t-shirt and jeans,
isn’t dressed to kill.
REFERENCES: Boris Johnson (UK Prime Minister), John Kerry (US Climate Envoy), Ursula von der Leyen (EU Commission President), Felix Tshisekedi (Congolese President), Greta Thunberg (Environmental Activist, Sweden).

PAINTING: High Society (Le Beau Monde) by René Magritte (1962).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recently, I have been enjoying poems in which quotidian scenes blossom into serious themes. I wanted to try that technique myself using a conversational style while, I hope, capturing the vulnerability many of us feel at what seems like slow or no international progress fending off environmental crises.


Linda Jackson Collins has been writing and editing in the Sacramento community for over 10 years. She is a five-time editor of the Sacramento Poetry Center’s journal, Tule Review, and participates in various writing groups and workshops. Her collection, Painting Trees, published by Random Lane Press, won the Gold Medal in poetry from Northern California Publishers and Authors (NCPA) in its 2019 contest. In addition, she has had individual poems published in numerous literary journals, including Silver Birch Press. Visit her at ljcreviews.com.