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Little ways to heal the planet
by Steven Deutsch

My mother told us—
“If you turn the light on,
then turn the light off.
Learn to love the dark
you will reside there
soon enough.”

She insisted we earn
a shower—
“worked up a sweat, did you,
sitting in your chair reading?”
And reminded us that cold
water cleaned
as well as hot.

Mom told us
It was the little things—
conserve, conserve
conserve and sabotage
a coal refinery.

Dad told us we might
take the car
only If we had a definite place to go—
reminding us that our two legs
were remarkably useful
for locomotion.

He taught us to repair
everything with simple tools
that fit nicely in your hand.
“This was once expensive,”
he often said,
“and doesn’t belong
in a landfill.”

Dad told us
it was the little things.
Do it yourself, do it yourself
do it yourself and short-circuit
the power grid.

My grandmother—
a woman of kindness
and depth,
taught us to read
by candlelight—
her mantra—
“better than tv.”

She’d say it was
the little things.
and taught us to
meditate and to make
bombs from leftover
household products.
“All power to the people”
she’d shout from her
rocker—raising her
arthritic fist as high as
she might.

PAINTING: Still Life with Candle by David Ligare (1999).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a mix of the practical and the fanciful. I didn’t set out to write it this way, but we will need a mix of the practical and the creative to even attempt to fix global warming. So I think it fits.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steven Deutsch has been widely published, both online and in print. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, he is poetry editor for Centered Magazine. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Books, which published his full-length book, Persistence of Memory,  in 2020. Steve’s third book of poetry, Going, Going, Gone, was recently published. Find more of his work at