Archives for category: THOUGHTS ABOUT THE EARTH

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Wild Places
by Janet Banks

Wolves hunt, elk rut, rattlers slither under
boulders, searching for shade
thunderclouds roil across mountains
miles away, curtains of rain to the west
sun blazing above useless fences
creatures wander, leave them be.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Drive, drive another hour, drive, keep driving
across the high desert plain, no services
next hundred miles: stop, turn back
survival not assured, no water jugs, provisions
spare tires, no place for strangers taking
chances, best heed the rules.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Uranium miners, hungry for treasures
lobby an assault, deregulation eviscerates
desert sand and rocks not worth much
money in the bank, oil-diggers covet
wildlife refuge on the northern coastal plain.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Lovers of wilderness, preserve
conserve, join caretakers of sacred lands
where generations of elders lie buried
deep, heroes to whom debts can
never be paid, their spirits rule.
Wild places. Keep us free.

PHOTO: Stars Over the Butte (Valley of the Gods, Bears Ears National Monument) by John Fowler.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem celebrates that on October 8, 2021, President Biden signed Proclamation 9558, restoring the boundaries of the spectacularly beautiful Bears Ears to 1.36 million acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante to 1.87 million acres. These two national monuments in southern Utah were established by President Obama shortly before he left office. They were downsized by 85% and 50% respectively, by executive order from then-President Trump. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland called Biden’s action to restore the land “profound,” saying, “Bears Ears is a living landscape. This is a place that must be protected in perpetuity for every American and every child of the world.”

PHOTO: The author at Bears Ears National Monument in May 2017, five months after President Obama designated the area a national monument. 

JANET BANKS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janet Banks is a Boston-based writer actively exploring the joys and challenges of aging in real time. Her personal essays and poems have been published by Cognoscenti, The Rumpus, Entropy Magazine, Silver Birch Press, Persimmon Tree, Poetry and Covid, a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, Poetry and Places, as well as other online sites. Shortly after retiring from a corporate career, she was published in The Harvard Business Review. The essay was reprinted in HBR’s Summer 2020 Special Issue: “How to Lead in a Time of Crisis.”

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Sunrise Is Only a Question
by Sam Barbee

Rain is sleep, snow pain, wind
a kiss with furtive tongue.
Read the omens before turning
to another light, its new queries,
and dawn’s startle of sermons and sutras.
Darkness remains the perfected form.

Weary bartering with vile saints,
I have mellowed overnight, am wiser.
Resolved to convert era to epic, epoch to ode.
Pet my feral dread. No predator dare speak
because each understands I will leash them
to a hollow tree, promote their humiliation.

I jog the curvy road where the side-ditch
of weakness is adored – intersect a thin bridge.
Teeter out to marvel river’s width, maybe
swan-dive between sink and shiver.
Or walk the far road leading to a plain
of promises where ugliness bonds

with splendor. I should confess, but to whom?
Remedies emerge from discomfort,
but hope blends a dream and a prayer.
Daybreak can transform lacking into flourish.
Decipher which questions shall be addressed,
while which others will not.

PAINTING: Sunrise of Wonder by John Miller.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects both the human misunderstanding of Mother Earth and how to treat her, how to acknowledge and look past our indiscretions with her, and a hint of optimism, I hope. I write every morning.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Barbee has a new collection, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag).  His previous poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016.  His poems have appeared recently in Poetry South, Literary Yard, Asheville Poetry Review, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, among others; plus the on-line journals American Diversity Report, Exquisite Pandemic, Verse Virtual, The Voices Project, and Medusa’s Kitchen. He is a two-time Pushcart nominee.  

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Milk
by Penelope Moffet

life itself — not human life — is the ultimate miracle upon this earth
— Farley Mowat, A Whale for the Killing

If I were
the size of
a moth
I’d live
in the leaves
of the hornless
woolly milkweed.
White fur
all around me,
the pendulous
complex
open-starred
pomegranate
breasts
of flowers
overhead
holding
nectar to be drunk,
pollen to be carried
for the birth
of seedlings.
In the season of milk,
the time
of leaves’
easily released
sticky juice,
I’d thrive.

Too small
to be seen
by men with rifles
who spill from cities
to hunt
slim deer
up canyons,
who would
gun down
a whale
caught
in a saltwater pond
linked to the sea
by channel
deep enough for passage
only
when full moon
high tide
collude
with storm.
Too small
to be one
of those men

In the hills
I love
bees
suck nectar
from the hearts
of flowers—
phacelia, poppy,
white sage,
mustard—
and make
something
sweeter.
Deep
in the throat
of bindweed’s
cream trumpet
a bee caresses
each pistil
with all
his feet,
flies
to the next cup.
What he takes
he repays

The world’s
a stomach
constantly
eating and
excreting and
there are
no gentle
creatures
but
only
we
spread
what can’t
return.

I don’t want
to be a
hawk
like Jeffers
solitary
on his
craggy coast

just
sometimes
something
mild enough
to creep
among
the deep-veined
milkweed leaves

bleeding
only
what I need.

First published, in slightly different form, in Keeping Still (Dorland Mountain Arts, 1995).

PAINTING: Butterflies by Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem in the early 1990s, on one of my writing retreats at Dorland Mountain Arts, a creative community near Temecula, CA. I had just read Farley Mowat’s brilliant, beautiful and infuriating book, A Whale for the Killing, the story of a Fin Whale that became trapped in a cove on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, where it was first marveled at and then tortured by the local humans. That book had the effect of making me want to leave my species and become something else. But we can’t leave our species. We have to try to make our relationship with the world better.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penelope Moffet is the author of It Isn’t That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018) and Keeping Still (Dorland Mountain Arts, 1995).  Her poems have been published in Gleam, One, Natural Bridge, Permafrost, Pearl, The Rise Up Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Verse-Virtual, The Missouri Review, and other literary journals, as well as in several anthologies, including What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest (University of Texas Press, 2007), Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles (Tia Chucha Press, 2016), Floored (Kingly Street Press, 2020) and California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology (Story Street Press, 2020).

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Broken
by Robbi Nester

I look for wisdom to the oldest trees, redwoods and sequoias,
old Druid oaks. You can trace their history in hollow trunks
and broken branches, blight and lightning scars on bark.
They’ve survived the fall of Angkor Wat and Carthage,
seen the rise of nations like Palau. If they ever ponder
the end of everything, they know even the oldest
trees will fall, the forests burn or be covered
by the sea. It wouldn’t be the first time.
I’m aware of Earth’s ongoing extinctions, oceans
paved with plastic waste, but they must feel it
in their roots. Maybe they foresee a world
that we can’t fathom, where new green
shoots will someday rise, renewed.

PAINTING: Oaks by Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have written many poems about the climate crisis and the disasters it has spawned, but few about possible solutions to this problem. However, it strikes me that since the solution to so many medical problems has come from the natural world, particularly from forests and trees, perhaps the answer to this one lies there as well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is a retired college educator and author of four books of poetry and editor of three anthologies. Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have been widely published, appearing or forthcoming most recently in California Quarterly, Tampa Review, Spillway, Sheila Na Gig, Book of Matches, Verse Virtual, Live Encounters, SWWIM, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and many others. Visit her at robbinester.net

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To not forget
by Sacha Hutchinson

Forget not
evening song
of stone chat in
newfound silence
it chinks like
breaking
glass.

Forget not
empty roads with
bicycle smiles
uncut verges
alive with scent
colour and insects.

Forget not
green spring rain
a drizzle that waits
as if frightened to fall.

Forget not
the moon, its ice
blue quarter
the lemon line
of dropping light.

Forget not
when we noticed
the unfastening of
leaf, wing, flower.

Forget never this
stolen time, when
shattered Earth
rested.

PHOTO: Spring meadow (Ireland) by Jonas Fehre.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short poem looks back at lockdown and how we were restricted in our activity and movement. We were able to go for short walks near where we lived, many discovered or rediscovered the natural world. This slowing and restriction allowed wildlife to recover. We need to learn from this and reduce travel. It is important to appreciate and protect our local habitat. Protecting our planet is an enormous task but starting at a local level is always possible.

Hutchinson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sacha Hutchinson is an eye doctor working in Galway, Ireland. She was born in Dublin. She attends both a weekly poetry workshop with Kevin Higgins  and  many Over The Edge events. Her poetry has appeared in Ropes (2018), in the  2018 and 2021 spring editions of Skylight 47, the 2019 autumn edition of The Curlew, impspired volume 3, Live Encounters (June 2020),  Pendemic (May 2021), Drawn to the Light Press (February 2021), Poetry in Lockdown Archive (UCD 2021), and Lothlorien Poetry Journal (2021). Shortlisted for Poetry for Patients in 2018 and 2019, she was longlisted for Over the Edge  New Writer of the Year in 2018 and shortlisted in 2019. A featured reader of Over the Edge November 2021, she received a bachelor of Arts in art and design in 2010. She has an interest in exploring the environmental message through paint and poetry.

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I am ashamed
by Mathias Jansson

I am ashamed
that I didn’t dare to say
Blah, blah, blah
to all the world’s leaders

I am ashamed
that I didn’t dare to accuse
all the world’s leaders
of stealing our future

I am ashamed that I am
still writing empty words
still talking and discussing
instead of creating actions and changes
and saving our future

I am ashamed
that I am one of them
my children will accuse
not doing enough to save our planet
leaving them with an uncertain future
and a climate change of hell
instead of making the right decisions
and leaving them the paradise they deserve.

PHOTO: Woman reading Greta Thunberg’s book, No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference. Photo by Carlos Roso on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a parent, we make the right decisions so our children will have a better life and a safe future. Still, we are unable to make the right decisions and take action about climate change. If a girl as young as Greta Thunberg can make such a big difference, what could we parents and grownups do if we decide to make the necessary changes to create a sustainable future for our sons, daughters, and grandchildren? If we don’t act now, we should be ashamed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and poet. He has contributed poetry to a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Maintenant: A Journal of Contemporary Dada. He has also contributed to anthologies from Silver Birch Press and other publishers. Visit him at mathiasjansson72.blogspot.

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Whether or Not
by Rikki Santer

See the moon? It hates us.
               Donald Barthelme

Toying with a planet, hinged fingers
massage rounds of feeble verbosity.

Reusable, recyclable, squeezing our
carbon tootsies into shrinking glass slippers.

Still, the Blue Marble wobbles atop
a human table where tongues of continents

lick their chops. Sun and moon are buttoned
to the notion of climate corrosion and tantrums

of a belligerent core. Heaps of building rubble
and oily sea foam trap so much absence. Public

policy antecedents for tenacity and reason
gone missing. What a Droste cocoa tin on eBay

could teach us about infinite regression.
Yet Earth is no Dodo. Her rind is wise

for nurturing the parts of her sum. Yes,
Chernobyl rewilded itself. Yes, she knows

how to heal and she’s better off without us.
So tilt the global prophesy of well-worn atlas

that’s too arid, too shaken, too swept away.
Final jigsaw piece is beyond how to save Her

but how to save ourselves if we want to stay
among the tiny blue faces of forget-me-nots.

PHOTO: Forget-me-nots by Hans.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Surely most agree that climate change is the most critical issue of our time, yet as the United Nations’ Glasgow Summit entered its second week, I read that Swedish activist Greta Thunberg felt that the chorus of nations pledging, by a designated decade, net zero emissions or the termination of deforestation lacked hard plans for implementation. As she put it, “the conference has mostly consisted of blah, blah, blah.”  Let us hope that she is wrong and that our planet’s heads of state and titans of industry are held accountable for the imperative promises they make, for today and for our tomorrows.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors, including six Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was recently published by Luchador Press. Visit her at rikkisanter.com.