Archives for category: HOW TO HEAL THE EARTH

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Sea Change
by Robin Cantwell

I turn off my phone,
tune out the news,
adjust my eyes
to three dimensions
to memory
to the shapes and sounds of life
a life beyond a touchscreen’s glare
a life that no longer needs data
data that breeds anxiety
anxiety that leads to response
response measured
in artificial urgency
in the mania
of all those feeds
feeds that tell me
get on that plane
refresh that page
toss that straw
into the sea
consume
consume
consume.

If I can make my difference
in habit alone
perhaps I can create a state of mind
that lasts a lifetime
a state of mind that takes me
outside the danger zone
the danger zone that whispers
who cares about icebergs
when they’re so far out of sight
so what if you take an uber
when you’re only a bike ride away.

Before I turn my phone back on
before I plug back in
let me take this feeling
unspool it
like an ancient tapestry
and in that tapestry find
a tectonic shift
a new chapter

a sea change.

PHOTO: Arrangement in Blue and Silver: The Great Sea by James McNeill Whistler (1885).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem during a power cut. Picking up a pen and writing in a notebook, away from the keyboard and screen, was a moment of revelation. It made me think: if we can remove ourselves, if only momentarily, from the updates and feeds that create such urgency within us, then perhaps our anxiety to consume will gradually go with it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Cantwell is a London-based graduate of the National Theatre and Theatre503 playwriting programmes. A lover of monologues, his writing for the stage has been showcased at the likes of Southwark Playhouse, Green Curtain Theatre and Anthroplay Theatre. Themes range from James Joyce’s writer’s block to the fear of your friends getting blue ticks on Instagram. His comic poetry has appeared in several UK and US anthologies, while he’s also a regular short fiction contributor to Pure Slush in Australia. He’s currently on the Faber & Faber Writing Academy, where he is writing his first novel.

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Ode to Hōkūleʻa 
by James Schwartz

She glides across the globe,
Over oceans, under stars:
The Hōkūleʻa: Star of Gladness,
Reminding us
Of nearly lost knowledge:
How to navigate as the ancestors,
With the wind and the waves,
I meet her in Hilo,
Joining the tourists,
To board her,
Marveling,
At her majesty,
& grinning at the cupboard,
Containing the coffee pot.

ILLUSTRATION: Hōkūleʻa (hokulea.com)

NOTE: Hōkūleʻ a  is a Polynesian double-hulled canoe. Launched on March 8, 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage. The voyage’s primary goal was to explore the Asiatic origins of Polynesian and Hawaiian natives, showing that they traveled via purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents or sailing from the Americas. A secondary goal was for the canoe and voyage to “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.”

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This text from the Hokulea website provides context for my poem: “Over the next five years, we will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, 100 indigenous territories, starting first in our home islands of Hawaii. Our goal is to inspire, educate and elevate a new generation of 10 million navigators by the end of the voyage in 2026. These young people can lead the many different kinds of bold voyages our Earth needs now, with the mindset, preparation, and courage to face the coming storms, and the resilience to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”

PHOTO: Hōkūleʻa (January 22, 2009).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Schwartz is a poet, writer, slam performer, and author of The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America and Punatic.

PHOTO: The author stands before the Hōkūleʻa in Hilo, Hawaii.

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After the burning
the forest returns
by Kelley White

—for Dr. Al Shigo, May 8, 1930-October 6, 2006

“Trees as a group are intelligent. Intelligence
means the ability to connect information
in ways that assure survival.”

past seared hemlock, split beach, scarred maple,
I am waiting by the damp places for the thick amazement
of berries, brave through the squalling mosquito clouds,
the tearing tartness of red, raspberry, thick confusion, of black,
berry, hard ticking of grasshopper and bee as the sun climbs
noon through new green aspen saplings, moose
maple, stinkwood, black birch cotyledons, choke
cherry, ash, —pushing two-leaved through low growth—
creepers, princess pine, ground pine, mosses, whip fork
and broom, powder gun, hairy cap, succulent snow-
berry, wintergreen, fierce climbing snapdragon,
thrust through fecund droppings, bear, moose, deer
sign, rabbit scat, new green touch-me-not, honeysuckle,
wild grape, strangling bittersweet, and your own, your fungi,
destroying angel, puff ball, witch’s butter, morel,
staghorn, in scrub brush, sumac, elderberry, in liminal
cattail, pussy willow, prickly wild rose; white light
on the ledges, the granite mountain, past tree line,
hot crow call on sun-burned shoulder, cracked paper
birch, wind-burned pine in the place of eagles,
pail thump of rock blueberries in lichen dry desert
(lush moss-worlds after rain,) checkerberries, trillium, Indian
pipe, ladyslipper, one shaft of sunlight, and dark
owl-pellet damp, cool waterfall thrush; trees may not heal,
but the forest does, seeks fingerling strawberries
in low burning grass, sand tunneling bee hiss, skitter
ant, quick knee prickle through juniper sharp branches—
read the runes, beetle-track beneath bark, dragonflies
in coupled flight, ballooning spiders, sugar maples scarred
by drunk sapsuckers, and ashes, noon hot bird sky, you, rising
ash, smoke, pollen, snake in hawkgrasp, seed, falling—my
startled hand seizing all, red tipped and eager, pushing
into the heart of brambles, transfixed by thorns—
almost worth the fire, the blackened stumps

PAINTING: Fires in the Forest by Laszlo Mednyanszky (1910).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Renowned plant pathologist Alex Shigo lived across the street from me as I was growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1960s. I remember many hikes with Dr. Shigo and my best friend, his daughter Judy, and learned much about insect life and fungi and something about the many layers of life in a forest. (To quote his story in Wikipedia, he was “a biologist, plant pathologist with the United States Forest Service whose studies of tree decay resulted in many improvements to standard arboricultural practices.”) Judy now oversees his archives and handles requests for his publications, including Modern Arboriculture—Touch Trees. I was very excited to hear him quoted a few years ago in a workshop I attended in Philadelphia about tending “urban trees.” His work, and my remembrance of his teaching, give me some hope for our multi-species planet, even for one of his special areas of expertise, the lowly yet vital fungi. (Let me mention here a book he guided me to: Lucy Kavaler’s 1965 Mushrooms, Molds, and Miracles, as fascinating now as when I read it in fourth grade.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.

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In the Beginning
by Margaret Dornaus

Start with a prayer.
It might contain just one word.
Or many—

Length doesn’t matter so much
as intention. Rest assured
words can propagate

exponentially . . .
like the seeds you plant
in early spring

when the wind is still
at your back. When hope holds
scarcely long enough

to keep you and the future
together for at least another
season of growing

your own version of a victory
garden, filled with tomatoes
and eggplants and other humble

members of the nightshade
family. Without ever fearing
extinction. Without feeling even

the tiniest threat of devastation. Start
before the work commences—the hoeing,
the weeding, the careful cultivation of

sun and shade, the gentle
layering of compost and leaves,
the tender tamping down,

the turning of the earth in need
of additional nutrients and endless
watering. Start with a prayer,

then begin again.
And again— Don’t stop!
Start with a prayer:

In the beginning . . .

PAINTING: Thankful Harvest by ArtsyBee.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The past two years have brought so many crises to light, not the least of which is climate change. I often wonder how one person can begin to make a difference in this pandemic world of ours. I’m not sure, but I do know that indifference and inaction are beyond contemplation. Better to use whatever tools we have at hand to try to heal ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the earth. For me, that means raising my voice, passionately, prayerfully, deliberately, as often as I can.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas, and recently received recognition as a semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th Annual Narrative Poetry Contest for her poem “First Sleepaway.” Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prosereceived a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. In 2020, she had the privilege of publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small press, Singing Moon, and received a Best of the Net nomination from MacQueen’s Quiinterly. Other recent work appears in Global Pandemic, MockingHeart Review, Silver Birch Press’ I AM STILL WAITING seriesThe Ekphrastic Review, and The Lindenwood Review. 

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Poppy
by Attracta Fahy

There she was with her ovary nose
all in a blush when I opened the door.
Her pupils splashed on tissue pink
petals, gushing under a star

stigma, lemon and lime carpels
exposed to the sun, precariously
ready to scatter her young.

One ivory, silvery leg rooted in a crack
on the pavement, the smokey scent of seed
in the breeze. Her leaf skirt in a swirl,

arms, two shoots raised into the air,
hands, two heads in a swoon, ready to burst
into bloom.

Like my daughter, how could I not love her?
Oh, the things I told her

PHOTO: Poppy (Galway, Ireland) by Attracta Fahy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes it’s overwhelming to witness what’s happening in the world in terms of not just climate change, but humanity itself. It is very hard to experience the helplessness one feels at the enormity of difficulties. The question of how to make necessary changes to heal ourselves, and our planet can feel too big, but I’ve learned that to keep focused on what I can do, regardless of how small it may seem, lifts me out of the fear and sadness. ¶ I live in the countryside and have a half-acre garden, which I have maintained for over 26 years. I never use chemicals, which means there is much more labour, but the reward is that my conscience is clear and I feel good. I have a huge compost heap at the end of my garden, which I call bug hotel, so much is happening there in terms of ecology. The trees and hedgerow I nurtured from when I came here have matured, and there is an abundance of wildflowers, hybrids, herbs, fruit, and always something new. I love to see natural habitat, hares, rabbits, frogs, and a variety of birds visit here. Every year it is the same and different. I live my life according to its rhythm, and know almost to the day when a flower or shrub will appear and when migrating birds will arrive. ¶ For me, much of the issue in terms of our self-destruction seems to be a deep-rooted fear of the feminine, the soul, and the anima mundi. When I saw the submission call on “How to Heal the Earth,” I thought of the morning I went out the back door of my house and saw a beautiful pink poppy looking up at me from the pavement. What I saw was a little fairy girl bringing blessings. Of course I knew her name was Poppy. This is how nature communicates: to our intuition. I felt a very deep love for her. This is how we heal the earth. Love of all things, but start with one. What returns is immense. Then I wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy is a Psychotherapist living in Galway, Ireland. She is the Winner of the 2021 Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and many other publications at home and abroad. A Pushcart and Best of Net nominee, she was shortlisted for the OTE 2018 New Writer, Allingham Poetry competition (2019 and 2020), Write By The Sea Writing Competition (2021), and Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme (2021). In March 2020, Fly on the Wall Poetry published her bestselling debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Apopka Wildlife Drive
by Michele Cuomo

The farmers slowly murdered the Lake
The ploughs spun soil in alligator death rolls
draining the swamps while salting poison.
The Lake let go, and the wood storks and the pelicans
were collateral damage. No charges were filed.
The land began to sink back under water
but there were no short sales. Abandoned
left like a cancer patient who goes to chemo
alone, and must wait long in the hallways before
she has the strength to shuffle to the bus stop.
She died, was buried and rose again.
She has been reclaimed, and over the burnt sticks
like old bones, the anhinga provides benedictions,
the water lilies lace the edges of the drowned fields.
the great blue heron trots across the bridges
with outstretched wings and tentative steps.
The small alligator bobs his Brancusi head.
The bobcats stretch and loll at the edges
with fat cat Cheshire satisfaction
and all the birds chatter and gloat at us
We’re here. We’re here. We’re here. We’re here.

@MicheleCuomo2021

PHOTO: Tricolored Heron, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive by OHFalcon72 (January 21, 2022).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took a drive on the Apopka Wildlife Drive last year. The land is slowly being healed. The birds rejoice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michele Cuomo lives in Winter Springs, Florida. Her poems have been published by Raven’s Perch, Prolific Press, and the Bard’s Initiative. 

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Eating the Earth
by CR Green

The runway is set for banqueting.
As in every beginning, I am tempted.
For years I have consumed the elements:
viscose, polyester, nylon, rayon, spandex,

100 % linen, cottons. The blends slop
& swill, now fall through my swollen fingers.
I have walked ramps quickly while our only
Home—this baby blue—still rocks & rolls.

I have tried to devour it all before hunger
passed its use-by date. But will other faraway
eyes find nutrients in these packed, piled flavours,
dissolve sweet strata of silk stripes & rainbows,

bolting calicos, four changes of seasoned jerseys,
jacketed mountains of savory pants & pantaloons?
Can they absorb any vitamins from frozen paisley
frocks, from satin sewn by tiny hands?

Can they digest shrinking timelines of marbled
chiffon? Can another generation make perfume
from melting Pavlovian laces alongside baked
Alaskan velveteens waiting to set oceans

of carbonated crepe on fire? During the intermission,
let my tongue polish every sinking island until this
present chaos shines so bright an audience of angels
stares. I can hear their wings idling now.

Let them look deep into my core. Let me hear
what they are saying about the days left to eat:
Count them. They are precious.
                                               They are numbered. 

PHOTO: Floating Textiles by pixabay.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after experiencing Ruth Watson´s Geophagy following RikTheMost´s Spoken Word Workshop at the Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch, New Zealand, February, 2018. Greta Thunberg says, ¨The fashion industry is a huge contributor to the climate-and-ecological emergency, not to mention its impact on the countless workers and communities who are being exploited around the world in order for some to enjoy fast fashion that many treat as disposables.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CR Green is an American-Kiwi living and writing from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her short stories and poetry have been published in such diverse places as The Loyalhanna Review (Pennsylvania), The Reach of Song (Georgia), The Poetry Distillery (New York State), Drawn to the Light (Ireland), and a fine line (New Zealand). One of her poems was recently shortlisted for the New Zealand Poetry Society´s Literary Heritage Awards. Visit her at apoetryperson.godaddysites.com and on Facebook.

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She Who Knits in the Buddhist Monastery
by Tricia Knoll

Her bare toes nudge the barn floor
from her caned rocking chair.
Her fingers knit stripes, cables
of mantle and crust, riffs of watersheds
running down to ruffled-water blue binding.
Ribbed fabric slumps around her knotted calves
like lazy Vermont mountains.
I pass near her. I hear a hawk. A gong.
I respect silence. I did not come for preaching.

Rock and knit. Patience
stitch by stitch, inch by inch,
she binds up guardian green.

I am one apprentice, come to find my call
in hoe and loam, heirloom seed and pollen.
Others move beside me—basket weavers,
windmill makers, moss minders, modelers of fault zones,
river tenders, ocean keepers, and selvage menders.

Her needles slish against each other.
She tilts her head at my glass of cold water,
crosses the needles in her left hand,
and reaches with her right. I offer
my sweated glass, see a lifeline
on her palm.

First published in Peacock Journal.

PAINTING: Knitting Girl by Giovanni Segantini (1888).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a tribute to women in the environmental movement who have meant to much to me as role models for the kind of work I’ve done removing invasive species in forest habitat. In addition to Greta, Terry Tempest Williams is one of those women. In the poem, one mythic woman, the teacher, is doing the knitting as an example of how to heal the world one stitch at a time. Knitting is an act of pulling together something almost out of nothing. In this case, the fabric she is making is a healing of earth, a metaphorical remaking of planet. Note what is coming off her needles: guardian green, riffs of watersheds, crust and mantle, the ribbed fabric of mountains. Her apprentices have come to learn. To tend rivers, keep oceans, mend selvages. She does not preach; she shows by example. That is why I pay homage to the women in the environmental movement who are working so hard on this healing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet with strong leanings to collections of eco-poetry: Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press) highlights relationships between humans and wildlife in urban habitat; Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books) looks at change over time in Manzanita, Oregon; Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box) salutes creatures and people on a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington. Coming out in early 2023 from Future Cycle Press, One Bent Twig is a series of poems about trees, deforestration, and hugging trees. Visit her at triciaknoll.com.

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Stuff
by Lynn White

It’s easy for me.
Even though I’ve planned it
and psyched myself up,
when I walk into the shop
and see rail upon rail of stuff
it overwhelms me,
I can’t be bothered to look,
can’t be bothered
to sort through it all.

It takes only seconds for me to realise
that my jacket,
or jeans,
or coat,
or shirt
are good for a few more years.

It’s harder for those who shop as a hobby,
who get a buzz like a shot of tequila
from the pleasure of buying new,
especially when it’s so cheap,
but we’re drowning in it
all the stuff.
It’s squeezing us out of our homes,
filling up our land
stifling our oceans,
burning up our planet
with it’s nonstop production
and speedy conversion to rubbish.

It’s those little things
and some people just don’t buy it!

PAINTING: Shirts by Oleksandr Hnylyzkyj (2002).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think that consumerism is the elephant in the room. So many of the things we do as individuals, though always valuable—especially when we discuss them—nevertheless have a very small impact. But not buying into the consumerist ethic can have a really large impact—especially if we talk about it!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Gyroscope Review, and So It Goes. Visit her at lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and on Facebook.

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The Day the Streets Rose Up
by Dick Westheimer

Cincinnati streets to close so restaurants can use
outdoor space for seating
                         Cincinnati Enquirer, May 8, 2020

In the second week of the second month
of the great slowdown of 2020, the streets
lined up for blocks around the Capital
and held up signs that once read Stop and No Parking,
that now proclaimed Set Us Free!

Keep at bay, they say, the heavy burden,
the cars and trucks we’ve carried.
Let the ground beneath us breath free, relieved
of the fearsome weight you’ve put upon us. The soil
whispers up through the press of pavement.

It longs for the feel of human feet treading lightly on its spine,
awaits the chatter of conversation instead of the roar
of road machines, yearns for laughter and the clatter of china
replacing screeching tires and clanging horns, imagines
the aroma of fresh bread and the exile of exhaust fumes.

And in the hush quiet after-hours
when all the people have padded away, silence.

The earth will dream of roots, the pavement will sigh
like an ox unyoked, the signposts will twine like lovers.
And as the streetlights dim, the brownstones will huddle ‘round
and sing lullabies to the bench sleepers.

I will peak from a side alley and weep at all the times
I’d plied those roads, forgotten what lay beneath them—
hunting grounds, the far-reaching roots of virgin forest beeches,
voles and ant colonies, beetles and moles and badger dens.

Now, only the faintest whips
of mycelium survive, still in touch with
the wild cousins, miles away. They await
the day of a greater slowdown yet to come.

PAINTING: A path by Nicholas Roerich (1908).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In the early days of the pandemic, amid the heartache and suffering, green sprouts emerged. The air cleared due to lack of automobile traffic, a sense of collective effort prevailed in many parts of the community, and here in Cincinnati, some streets were closed to car traffic in favor of pedestrians and outdoor dining. The image of the soil beneath the streets relieved of the weight and cacophony of vehicles became the impetus for me imagining—via the writing process—just what a world might feel and look like. Relief indeed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dick Westheimer has—in the company of his wife Debbie—lived, gardened, and raised five children on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio. He has taken up with poets and the writing of poetry to make sense of the world. He is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist. In addition to Rattle, his poems have appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Rise Up Review, and Sheila Na-Gig, among others. You can find links to Dick’s poems and other musings at dickwestheimer.com.