Archives for posts with tag: climate change

This Changes Everything
by Cynthia Anderson

From time out of mind, calling a Deep Witness has been regarded as a last resort. Dressed in black, androgynous, they enter unobtrusively, eyes cast downward—yet no one present can escape their gaze. They stand silent, radiating lasers of truth, changing everyone around them. Feuds fall apart, poisoned lifeways dissolve, the tyranny of the familiar vanishes as though it never existed. Those affected are faced with starting over, finding a way to live without falsehoods, groping along the lines of their breath.

mountain path
just when we need it
a mercy seat

PAINTING: Cave Wall Guardians by David Chethlahe Paladin (1972).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It seems to me that all humans are being called right now to act as Deep Witnesses. Whether we heed the call or not is up to each of us. Greta is showing us how it’s done. Deep Witnesses are right here, right now, and they can be denied only at our peril. In this haibun, I’m imagining a world where everyone finally acknowledges that there’s no turning back. There’s no continuing to live the way we have been. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance we might get some unexpected help. The “mercy seat” refers to the Ark of the Covenant. I like to imagine spiritual forces coming to our aid on this long climb to save the planet. I was inspired by this line from the call for submissions: “We are looking for ideas (real or imagined) of ways to heal the earth.” And, “your poem can offer fanciful thoughts that defy the practical.” So, my haibun is different from a straight list of what I’m doing to save the earth. Like most everybody else who’s contributing, I’m changing the way I live—cutting back on waste, going solar, composting, etc. So, for this theme, I wanted to try something outside the box.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in California’s Mojave Desert, which is in the process of dying from extreme heat and drought due to climate change. The majority of Joshua trees are expected to perish in this century, but, more than that, all desert plants and wildlife are affected and the damage is visible now. Recognizing that there is no time to lose, she is changing the way she lives on this earth as fast as she can. Visit her at

Blue-Sky Thinking
by Clive Collins

Me, age five, seated on the rug,
The room snug and heated
By an open fire of coal.
But outside, the day dark grey
Since morning, turning black.
Fog or smog, my mother says.
“Another starless night, son.
A week of this we’ve had.
Your Daddy will be late
Again, and his chest so bad.”
But on the radio, the voice
Of Daphne Oxenford asks
Am I sitting comfortably?
I say I am, and she begins
A tale, a song, a rhyme.

Years pass and in that time
I’ve sat in ever greater comfort,
The smog abolished, and
By Act of Parliament no less.
Cheap heat, cheap food, cheap clothes,
A car or three, TVs and stereos,
Holidays in the South of France,
Italy, Morocco, Miami, and L.A.
The Caribbean even.

But if dear old Daphne O.
Were here today, her question
Now might be, “Are you sitting
Uncomfortably?” She isn’t here
But I am, so I’ll begin a tale
Or start to sing a ditty, rhyme
Some words on giving up
And paying more, trying to replenish
The planet’s ever-dwindling store.
Put on more clothes in winter please,
Not the heat. Try in summertime
As best you can to tolerate
The climate we’ve created. Pay fairly
For the food you eat. Don’t, unless you
Absolutely must, buy meat. Give up cars.
Use your feet or bike or bus or train.
Do the very best you can not to take
A ‘plane.

My own time here’s so nearly done.
I know the legacy I leave is poor
A ruin even. Still, before I close
The door behind me, I feel
I owe it to the young to help
Them inherit something at least
Beginning to heal.

And so, Cassandra-like, I tell you all
The fault most definitely is
Within ourselves and not the stars –
Or words to that effect. (Apologies
Due here to Master Will Shakespeare.)
We cannot change the stars,
Though ruin them we might
Should we ever get there,
Which God forbid, but maybe
We can make them seem to shine
At night a little bit more brightly,
A little bit more clear.

PAINTING: Cassandra and the Burning of Troy by Evelyn De Morgan (1898).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece began as a slow trickle of thoughts and then became a flood.  I remembered the killer fogs/smog of Britain in the 1950s and 1960s and how they were ameliorated by the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968.  Sometimes it takes government to act on behalf of the individual, but now when it often feels as if governments are reluctant to act against the companies that increasingly control the planet then individuals must act. And that is the substance of the piece.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.  Carried Away and Other Stories is now available from Red Bird Chapbooks.

I don’t know how to save the earth
by Scott Ferry

except for adults to study as hard
as children study for spelling bees
so that words like elucubrate
and eudaemonic don’t end up a victim
of vivisepulture (the act of burying alive).

Or for adults to study the Aye-aye the Axolotl
the Amazon River Dolphin all the way around
the shrinking alphabet to the Vaquita
the Vicuña and the Western Lowland Gorilla.
For adults to not bury themselves in the

carcasses of lost species like a reverse
Noah stacking pairs of corpses in an ark
to send into the ocean with the rest
of the plastic skins of dead refreshment.
There are no words for the smell

of our own children burning
in the pyre we have fashioned
with a caption and a rebate.
Our grandchildren will read about
our grave insouciance from under


PAINTING: Mother Earth as a Young Woman by Norval Morrisseau.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I tried to write a positive poem about this subject but I could only think to scare the adults straight with a cautionary tale. I thought about how many words children put into their heads preparing for spelling bees and how vast our potential for learning and progress. Yet, these abilities are squandered on advertising and profit for the most part. Like I said, I tried to be positive but the push for money is so strong that it just blows me over. I hope at least this dark poem may cause some of us adults to look into how to help and heal and fund what is necessary to save species from leaving us like most of our vocabularies into the graveyard of texts and memes.

ferry photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His most recent book, These Hands of Myrrh, is now available from Kelsay Books. You can find more of his work at

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.

mathias_photo copy

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.

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.

Santer copy

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  

Arctic ice copy
Arctic Ice
by Betsy Mars

Below the shimmering outline of the heat-struck mountain
I spy a trailer truck plastered with scenes of snow-capped peaks
delivering ice to the thirsty non-natives maladapted for the weather.

The desert crawls with realtors feeding
the demand for inexpensive land.

In this new old world order we seek heat
and shelter from winter’s vicissitudes,
drink in the cool dawn, dip in the pool at midday,
sip cocktails at sunset, still water the lawn.

At night we sit in the vast darkness and marvel at the stars.
Earthbound and blind, in search of water we travel to Mars.

PHOTO: Arctic Ice (Twentynine Palms, California) by Betsy Mars. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this (and took this photo) during a brief (one full day) retreat in a motel in Twentynine Palms, California. I had been struggling with a way to approach this topic which is so important to me without ranting or being overly pessimistic. My nature is to find hope, though I have been more and more fearful as I have observed all of the severe weather events that seem to be increasing in frequency this past few years. It is difficult for me to understand how others are not feeling the same urgency to address this as I do, though I admit to not wanting to give up some of the habits I have that contribute to climate change. I am hoping that as a global community we find a way to align and ease the way for everyone to make the necessary changes to avoid more devastation. It is compulsory.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a tree-hugging, bleeding-heart poet and photographer who seems to have always had a soft spot for the environment and all creatures, great and small. From childhood she gravitated to water and to green environments, but she has lately found herself also appreciating the resilience and adaptations of those living in the desert – maybe a natural evolution as she ages and adapts. As the mother of two adult children, she is especially concerned with the future of the planet. Her work has appeared in One Art, Sheila-Na-Gig, Sky Island, Verse Virtual, and many other fine publications. She is the author of the poetry collection Alinea and co-author, with Alan Walowitz, of In the Muddle of the Night. For more, visit her at and find her on Facebook

Sledding the Valley of the Shadow
by Laura Foley

We’re burning the Earth. We’re burning the sky.
                         —Deena Metzger

           I know the burning’s true,
so I won’t be throwing snowballs
in the halls of Congress.

           After today’s snowfall, I grab jacket, hat, mittens,
tear down the steep drive on my orange sled,
beaming a path through the night with a light

           I hold between my knees
under the spread of winter constellations,
as dogs lope alongside.

                          In this northern woods valley,
we’re more likely to hear geese
than airplanes overhead.

                          I sled and snowshoe through cold winter days,
I know will last through my lifetime,
but still act for the generations after, including my own family.

                          I compost, recycle, keep bees,
have forgone meat for thirty years, and wonder how else to please,
whether being the change I’d like to see

                          will be enough to ease the anxiety
spreading like wildfire from teen to teen, every Greta or Deena grieving
the oblivion yet to come.

PHOTO: After sledding by Severin Demchuk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy living in rural Vermont, where we have long, snowy winters, and a steep, winding driveway for sledding in fresh snow; but I fear for future generations. I will continue to do my part to address climate change—solar panels for heating; composting food waste; growing vegetables; not eating red meat; recycling. I hope these ideas spread around the globe, soon.

laura portraitMaine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review and an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Her poems have won numerous awards and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at

A Guiding Force
by Cristina M.R. Norcross

I will let the outside become the inside,
let the tall grass grow,
a quiet covering at the pond’s edge,
protection for rabbits,
chipmunks, and mice.

I will skip the kitchen bin.
The apple core and carrot shavings
deserve a home amongst the trees,
becoming a dinner menu
for thankful creatures.

I will let clean water flow,
replace bleach with white vinegar
for natural whites in the wash,
for nature’s sake.

I will be mindful of the energy of words,
speaking only colors of compassion,
the soft touch of gentle hands,
using thoughtful tones,
in recognition of what tender ears have heard before,
what they deserve to hear today.

I will let my connection to
every green frond,
every tangerine leaf, every imperfect grain of sand,
every trickling stream,
every earthworm moving the soil
be the guiding force
in how I move through the day,
how I tread lightly on this borrowed earth.
I will breathe deeply.
I will give thanks for every breath.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In writing an offering for this prompt, I wanted to focus on the gift of connection, as a guiding force, when reflecting on how we can each do our part to help heal the earth. What came to mind was fostering a deep connection to nature’s inhabitants, as well as a deep connection to those around us. I wanted to explore how our energy affects the lives of all beings co-existing with us — in the backyard, in the lakes, in the sky, in the house next door.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cristina M. R. Norcross lives in Wisconsin and is the editor of Blue Heron Review. Author of nine poetry collections, her most recent books are The Sound of a Collective Pulse (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Cristina’s work appears in: Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Poetry Hall, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others. Her work also appears in numerous print anthologies.  Cristina has helped organize community art/poetry projects, has led writing workshops, and has hosted many open mic readings.  She is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day.  Visit her at and @firkinfiction on Twitter.

water line
by j.lewis

toad will think nothing
of the constant hand
that keeps the lilies clear
grooming the shading leaves
and quiet water
that all but guarantee
progeny to infinity
in the absence of plastic
of paper
of tin

heron will ignore him
think nothing of the clearness
of the pool he fishes
bent only on the catch
that glimmers near the shore

a long pole rake and canvas bag
brought daily to this pond
erasing the indifference
of fast-food trash
and careless hands
along the water line

PHOTO: Toad and Lily Pond by Barb984.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem as one of a series for a reading sponsored by (defunct). It later appeared in my first collection a clear day in october (Empire & Great Jones Little Press).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, nurse practitioner, and Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. He has three full-length collections and several chapbooks to his credit. Learn more at his website or on his Facebook page.


BACKGROUND: From October 31 through November 12, 2021, the United Kingdom will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. According to the  COP26 website, “The COP26 summit will bring decision makers together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

More than 100 world leaders are expected to attend the Glasgow conference, including United States President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Though Sweden’s Greta Thunberg has grown disillusioned with the empty promises and “30 years of blah, blah, blah” from world leaders, the 18-year-old activist has agreed to attend—but cautions that we must act now because, “There is no Planet B.” Many believe that COP26 is our last chance to tackle the climate catastrophe.” 

Sometimes, it takes outsiders to develop solutions. So while the powers-that-be hammer out ideas and agreements during the 13-day COP26 Summit, let the poets take on the challenge of HOW TO HEAL THE EARTH. When the series is completed, we will try to get all the featured poems to Greta Thunberg in the hope that these words, thoughts, and ideas will inspire this modern-day Joan of Arc to continue her fight for our planet. See below for the prompt. NOTE: We are NOT looking for nature poems per se (i.e., we are NOT looking for odes to nature) and we are NOT looking for elegies for the earth. We are looking for ideas (real or imagined) of ways to heal the earth. We want this to be a positive, hopeful, helpful, inspiring series — a sharing of ideas that can help the earth. 

PROMPT: Submit a poem of any reasonable length. Your poem can offer practical ideas of how to heal the earth from a personal perspective (i.e., something specific to you and not didactic or soapboxy) or your poem can offer fanciful thoughts that defy the practical. What we like: First-person narrative poems that offer insight into the author’s life, mind, thoughts, feelings. What we don’t like: Didactic poems, sermons, rants, diatribes, and most rhyming poetry (we make exceptions for poetic forms such as villanelles and pantoums). Note: One poem per author, please. 

WHAT: Submissions can be original or previously published poems. You retain all rights to your work and give Silver Birch Press permission to publish the piece on social media. We are a nonprofit blog and offer no monetary compensation to contributors—the main benefit to you is that we will publicize your work to our 10,000+ followers. If your poem was previously published, please tell us where/when so we can credit the original publisher.

WHEN: We’ll feature the poems and prose on the Silver Birch Press blog in the HOW TO HEAL THE EARTH Poetry Series starting in November 2021. We’ll also feature the poetry on Twitter and Facebook.


To help everyone understand our submission requirements, we’ve prepared the following checklist.

1. Send ONE MS Word document TITLED WITH YOUR LAST NAME (e.g. Smith.doc or Jones.docx).

2. In the same MS Word document, include your contact information (name, email address). Also list your home state or country.

3. In the same MS Word document, include a one-paragraph author’s bio, written in the third person. You are encouraged to include links to your books, websites, and social media accounts — we want to help promote you!

4. In the same MS Word document, include a note about your poem or creative process written in the first person (this is optional — but encouraged).

5. Send a photo of yourself as a SEPARATE jpg attachment (not in the MS Word document). Title the photo with your last name (e.g., Jones1.jpg, Jones2.jpg).

6. Email to—and put “HOW TO HEAL” in the subject line.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021

PHOTO: The Blue Marble is an image of Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on its way to the Moon, and is one of the most reproduced images in history. NASA released the image on December 23, 1972, amid a surge in environmental activism, and the photograph became a symbol of the environmental movement—as a depiction of the Earth’s frailty and vulnerability. Credit: Johnson Space Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).