Archives for posts with tag: environment

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Thank you to the 136 authors from 21 countries and 32 U.S. states who contributed their poetry to our HOW TO HEAL THE EARTH Series and THOUGHTS ABOUT THE EARTH Series, which ran from October 31, 2021 to March 23, 2022. Many thanks for sharing your ideas, thoughts, feelings, and impressions about the Earth and offering ways to address the climate crisis. As Greta Thunberg tells us, every contribution has an impact. Your work has inspired all of us to keep finding ways to make a difference!

Cynthia Anderson
María Luisa Arroyo
Jaya Avendel
Janet Banks
Sam Barbee
Jenny Bates
Laurel Benjamin
Shelly Blankman
Lavinia Blossom
Rose Mary Boehm
Erina Booker
Jeff Burt
Ranney Campbell
Robin Cantwell
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Clive Collins
Linda Jackson Collins
Judith Comer
Margaret Coombs
Joanne Corey
Joe Cottonwood
Barbara Crooker
Michele Cuomo
Michelle D’costa
Howard Debs
Steven Deutsch
Julie A. Dickson
Lara Dolphin
Anne Walsh Donnelly
Margaret Dornaus
Margaret Duda
Myra Dutton
Barbara Eknoian
Dina Elenbogen
Kimberly Esslinger
Attracta Fahy
Scott Ferry
Yvette Viets Flaten
Laura Foley
S.M. Geiger
Christine Gelineau
Ken Gierke
Jessica Gigot
Matthew Gilbert
Uma Gowrishankar
CR Green
Umar Saleh Gwani
Anita Haas
Tina Hacker
Sheila Hailstone
Penny Harter
Maura High
Sacha Hutchinson
Mathias Jansson
Andrew Jeter
Paul Jones
Euline Joseph
Feroza Jussawalla
Debra Kaufman
James Ross Kelly
Lynne Kemen
Kim Klugh
Tricia Knoll
Judy Kronenfeld
Laurie Kuntz
Tom Lagasse
Jennifer Lagier
Paula J. Lambert
Barbara Harris Leonhard
Joan Leotta
Anita Lerek
j.lewis
Robert Lima
Nancy Lubarsky
Anne Namatsi Lutomia
Marjorie Maddox
Mohini Malhotra
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Elizabeth McCarthy
Mary McCarthy
Susan McClellan
Catfish McDaris
Joan McNerney
Ed Meek
Penelope Moffet
Leah Mueller
Andrew Mulvania
Mish Murphy
Jed Myers
Robbi Nester
Maria Nestorides
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Lynn Norton
Bonface Isaboke Nyamweya
Mary O’Brien
Suzanne O’Connell
Daniel Joseph Paracka, Jr.
Jay Passer
James Penha
Darrell Petska
Barbara Quick
Shirani Rajapakse
Patrick T. Reardon
Jeannie E. Roberts
Alexis Rotella
Ed Ruzicka
Rikki Santer
James Schwartz
Sheikha A.
Ndaba Sibanda
Sharon SingingMoon
Julia Klatt Singer
Ranjith Sivaraman
Julie Standig
Carol A. Stephen
Ann Christine Tabaka
Katrin Talbot
Alarie Tennille
Thomas A. Thrun
Smitha Vishwanath
Julene Waffle
Ann E. Wallace
Alan Walowitz
Donna Weems
Ruth Weinstein
A Garnett Weiss
Dick Westheimer
Kelley White
Lynn White
Kim Whysall-Hammond
Martin Willitts Jr
Liza Wolff-Francis
Jonathan Yungkans
Thomas Zampino
Joanie HF Zosike

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. 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).

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Listen to the Youth
by Elizabeth McCarthy

In Glasgow, Scotland
            the powerful discuss
recovery as the patient orbits the sun,
            its temperature rising
                        at every turn

as if Paris was enough to stop the burn

“empty promises — 30 years of blah, blah, blah”
                        will not cure what has been done

in time for children to live their lives
            on earth of green. Where freedom
                        ends in fires and floods, as futures
            wash away in the silty mud of greed.

Be the change you wish to see,
            each day the sun will rise and shine,
health is there in the light of day
            if we give up our fuel burning ways.

Silence the days of old, where gray haired
croakers prescribe greenwash on the windows of reality.

Listen to youth who march for truth.

*quotes are from Greta Thunberg, leader of the global movement to save our planet.

PHOTO: Greta Thunberg at the European Parliament on March 4, 2020.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think one first has to recognize the diagnosis and prognosis for our planet before one can determine a treatment,  “How to Heal the Earth.” So, in this poem, I attempted to begin with where we are before addressing a prescription for health, which as suggested is in each of our hands as well as listening to those who speak the truth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth McCarthy lives with her husband in an old farmhouse in northern Vermont, where they raised two children, several generations of free roaming hens, and made numerous attempts at keeping honey bees alive through cold winters and marauding bears. In 2018, she retired from teaching and turned to poetry in March 2020 when Covid closed down the world and time became a windfall.

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Not So Difficult Conversations
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

Today we ate Indian food for dinner
At an Indian restaurant in an American midwestern town
Once food of the Indian gods and kings
Recipes passed on with secrets only known to the select few
Full grains of rice and cottage cheese and spinach
Now a meal for a customer who is king

Before we left the chef came to greet
At first hurriedly but not for long
He spoke of his times in Germany after the Berlin Wall came down
My friend spoke of growing up in Berlin when the Wall was up
They both agreed to return to Berlin someday
He spoke of the seven seasons found in winter
Of the high temperatures and rainy monsoons
We all were remembered the news about Dehli’s air quality improvement      during COVID-19 shutdown
Of how the skies of once polluted cities turned azure blue, and the air      fresh
He spoke of the high temperatures and increased rainfall in India
I spoke of the change in seasons and increased floods and drought in      Kenya
We all remarked on the tree-planting efforts by Wangari Maathai
My friend shared about the midwestern snowstorms and changing      winters
As Midwesterners we all agreed that the winters were not the same
And agreed that climate change is real and requires quick action

T’was time to say goodbye so we happily left
Promised ourselves to return to our new friend’s restaurant soon
In our stories we healed ourselves
In our action we must heal mother earth
The next generation must tell better stories than we do
Stories of a healed world

IMAGE: Porcelain Dinner Plate with Flower Petal World Map by Beisiss. Available on Amazon.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by the call for submissions and a conversation with an Indian restauranteur in a small midwestern town. I wanted to demonstrate how climate change conversations can be a basis for storytelling followed by action.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of Champaign-Urbana poetry group. She enjoys reading and writing poems, and has published poems with Silver Birch Press, BUWA, and awaazmagazine. She also likes going for long walks and now lives in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

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Earth Speaks: An Oratorio
by Joanie HF Zosike

1. Recitativo—Earth

“Our last chance to tackle the climate catastrophe.”
Ugh.
“How to heal the earth.”
Argh.
“Our fight for the planet.”
Grrrr.
Expressions like these curdle my molten lava.
They make me want to smash my surface with a mallet!
Instead of wreaking havoc, I sing:

2. Chorus of Fig Trees and Farmers

She fell in love with her
landlord Sam, a generous man.
They were agrarian lovers
who worked on the land.

Fig tree gave the woman
a root and branch of itself.
She dropped seeds in the ground.
Her patch of earth grew to sky.

It grew fiercer, too.
how its green fig eye spread
greater than a mountain.
Woman held her head high.

Fig twitched its leaves and
shook-shaukelt-secoué
Shekere shekere IH! IH!
Ritual dance pounded Earth.

Well! Earth is in no mood
for bucolic solutions.
She doesn’t approve of naïve
resolutions. She needs more.

Earth seeks a new directive.
She’s maintaining her orbit
but must gain cooperation from
those who have injured her.

3. Duet: Earth and Human

EARTH: What makes you think you can save me?
HUMAN: I was born from the dust of your dust.
                I will prove that in me you can trust.
EARTH: What gives you this terrible power?
HUMAN: I’m your owner, your tamer, your plougher.
EARTH: You’ve never owned me and you never will.
HUMAN: What if I take you to dinner, pay the bill?
EARTH: All right, enough with the rhyming!
                We have to get down to the real nitty-gritty.
                You keep talking about a fight for “the planet.”
                Meaning me. Must it always be a fight?
HUMAN: That’s right, I can’t abandon you after I’ve done you such harm.
                And I swear, I did so out of innocence.
                I never meant to hurt you.
                I just didn’t know.
EARTH: So you’re saying you were ignorant?
HUMAN: Just like Eve fell prey to the snake’s manipulation,
                I fell under the spell of my own self-adulation.
EARTH: There you go, rhyming again. The editor specifically said…
HUMAN: Sorry, I have to reread the guidelines.
                What I mean to say is, I owe you a good old-fashioned healing.
EARTH: Get your grimy hands off me, infant.
                You think the only way to accomplish anything is by force.
                I’ve lost patience with your battle cries and wars!
HUMAN: Don’t go all semantic on me, Ma.
EARTH: It’s not just wrong words, you think wrong thoughts.
                Perhaps you should ask ME what I need.
HUMAN: Okay, what do you need?

4. Earth Aria

EARTH: Sprinkle me gently.
                Don’t grizzle my grit so that soil drains down the hillsides
                You are so sloppy, child, throwing your trash this way and that.
                You’ve burned away the ozone so you can’t go out without a                 hat.
                You’ve charred the forests and mountainsides, disgraced every                 place
                you’ve trod across the land in your mania to leave your mark.
                You’ve suckled the blood from my rivers, my streams.
                Cast your plastics, spit my oil into the ocean’s crust
                Put a flag on the moon! Good grief!
                I ask you now to press your face into mine.
                Sing to me ancient songs. Place your ear to the ground,
                hear the whispers from the bedchambers of my bowels.
                I’m built like a brick house, organic and mineral.
                Trees are my bones, don’t break them.
                We’re made of the same stuff—I’m just a little more round.

5. Glorious Hallelujah!

HUMAN: And bigger.
EARTH:  And don’t you forget it!
HUMAN: Are you saying I’m star stuff, too?
EARTH:  More than you know.
HUMAN: Is my human body—
EARTH: The same as my celestial body.
HUMAN: I’ve always dreamt that I could talk with you, Mother Earth.
EARTH: I’ve dreamed about that too, honey.
                Yearned for the chance to make myself clear to you.
                Too bad I had to shout to get your attention.
HUMAN: You are kind of scary these days.
EARTH: I’ve always been scary. But I’m always benign.
HUMAN: Can I learn to think like a celestial body?
EARTH: Perhaps. If you really try.
HUMAN: I must fly away to distance stars to save the human race!
EARTH: What, to terraform and make the same mistakes all over again?
                You’re just not a one-trial learner, are you?
HUMAN: I guess not. But how do I learn to fix—tackle—heal—fight—
                I’m confused.
EARTH: No kidding.
                Follow your instincts, child, that’s all.
                Learn from the seasons and tides.
                They are my children, too. They’ll be looking out for you.
                There’s no need for apprehension.
                Did I forget to mention, we can stage an intervention together.
BOTH:    Glorious, glorious Hallelujah!
CHORUS: Glorious, glorious HEAVE-HO!
EARTH:  I don’t want you to leave so try not to heave
                and I urge you to think when you hoe!
TUTTI: Glorious, glorious Hallelujah!
             Arboreous glorious Hallelujah!
             Victorious synergy, Hallelujah!
             Green is the color of love!

PAINTING: Spring by Harmonia Rosales (2018).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The first thing I thought about when I saw the subject for this Silver Birch series was:

“What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn and
Tied her with fences and dragged her down.”
—The Doors, “When the Music’s Over”

I thought back to my solo theatre work written in the early 90s, All Right, So I AM the Earth! and realized this theme has been with me a long time. Then I remembered that with others of my generation, I screamed as if wounded about an imminent catastrophe since the late 60s. Flash forward to 2022. The catastrophe is here. The repercussions of war and injury done to the ecosystem are intrinsically related. It will take imagination, vision, resistance, and strategies we have yet to imagine to overcome what our careless treatment of life on earth and in the oceans has wrought. We are all responsible to a degree, so the best thing we as individuals can do is: educate ourselves, reduce our carbon footprint, and don’t forget how to dance, sing, and love. And, if all else fails, write an oratorio.

PHOTO: Joanie Fritz Zosike in All Right, So I AM the Earth!, solo theatre work written, composed, and performed by JHFZ, directed by Stephanie JT Russell, photo by Jeanne Liotta.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie HF Zosike is the 2019 Writer’s Hotel Sara Patton poetry stipend recipient. Her upcoming work includes Jambu Press’s Light on the Walls of Life, an anthology dedicated to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Her chapbooks are Character Poems (Chez Chez) and Bliss, Not Weight, (Ides Anthology of Chapbooks, Silver Birch Press). Her poetry has been featured in a ranged of publications, including Alien Buddha, Home Planet News, Levure Literraire, Maintenant, Syndic, and The New Guard: Boom!  “Compassion,” a short story, appeared in Have a NYC 3 (Three Rooms Press). Joanie received an Albee fellowship for her play Inside produced at American Actors Theatre, a NYSCA regrant for 12 Steps to Murder produced at The New Theater, and Foundation for Jewish Culture grant for And Then the Heavens Closed, produced at The Jewish Museum (all in NYC).

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Good Clean Dirt for My Grandsons
by Thomas A. Thrun

What do I tell them, my two young grandsons, in 2021?
How do I explain, simply, the importance of good clean dirt
and its role in healing our earth and slowing the warming?

The oldest reminds me he’s almost seven! His brother
proclaims, I’m five and a half! Tucking them in, I paraphrase
Tennessee Ernie Ford: God bless your pea-picking hearts!

I dim their room’s lights. I sigh to myself, almost cry, for I
am a Baby Boomer, born of parents of The Greatest Generation,
per former NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw’s book of 1998.

Pa and Ma farmed 80 acres in southern Wisconsin (1944-1990).
They’d each grown up with almost nothing in The Depression,
courted during WWII and raised us kids with cows and chickens.

Tobacco was our main cash crop, the one that paid the taxes
and helped all us get through college. Pa said, You kids don’t need
to wash your hands to eat lunch out here. It’s just good clean dirt!

Our farm basically was Sustainable long before the term
was fashionable. Pa did not like chemicals, but did use 2,4-D
to keep the thistles and nettles from shorting out the pasture fence.

Pa cultivated between tobacco rows with one horse, and we all
followed with our hoes, working out the weed sprouts between plants.
Come harvest, few weeds were left to damage the precious leaves.

The grandboys and I now play farm in our condo basement
with my 1950s vintage rubber cows, toy tractors, and implements.
I’ve built replicas of our 1900 barn, wood silo, and other buildings.

I’ve modpodged family photos to the undersides of hinged roofs
with captions detailing the care of livestock and the land itself.
And I talk about all this as we play, hoping dearly some sinks in.

For now (and if for some reason I am not around to witness
their becoming young men), this poem will have to do. Along
with others and the 125-page/400-photo memoir I’ve penned.

I want them to get good clean dirt stuck under their fingernails.
I want then to appreciate our Wisconsin conservation heritage and
have my copy of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.

I want to tell them about former Gov. Gaylord Nelson. About
my picking up road litter and a very warm bottle of Blatz beer with
two friends, high school girls, on the very first Earth Day in 1970.

If nothing else, I want Ben and Miles to be Conservation Voters.
They do not know yet, but it’s already in their blood. I want them
to learn of Glasgow, where earth’s healing begins . . . again.

And, if only for a day, both sometime should eat lunch in a field,
with hands stained in harvest of organic food for others. I want them
to understand land ethics. To heal the earth, each in his own way.

PHOTO: Marinette County, Wisconsin, farm by Milo Mingo.

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NOTE1 FROM THE AUTHOR: Raised as a Badger State farm boy, the land always has been important to me. I am the son of a second-generation Wisconsin farmer. Growing up in the 1960s, my father often impressed upon us how fortunate my sisters and I were to have electricity, refrigeration, TV, and indoor, running water . . . among many other things. My father and his brothers all were born before WWI and knew the meaning of real hard work. They were tied close to the land, and often exchanged labor with other neighboring farmers and relatives. We used mostly hand tools, hoes instead of herbicides as much as possible. Labor from us, his children, was free and expected. Pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals were expensive.

PHOTO: Poet Tom Thrun and his twin sister, Nancy, about 1959, on their work horse. Older sister, Ruthie, holds the single-row tobacco cultivator.

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NOTE2 FROM THE AUTHOR: It is important t me that my children and grandboys know about all this, especially living here in this state with its rich (though now threatened) conservation heritage and ethics . . . as important as breathing, home cooking, poetry, charity, Country and Classical Music, and the sense of community. I now understand how my own father grew to hate pickled fish. I took an interest in writing early on, and my older sister gave me a paperback of Robert Frost’s Complete Poems when I was 13. The rest is poetic history.

PHOTO: Poet Tom Thrun has countless hours recreating his family farm for his children and two grandboys. His model features toy animals, toy tractors, other machinery from the 1950s and 60s, as well as arn, pig house, hen house, outhouse, tobacco shed, granary, and other structures. He has attached photos, some going back 100 years, to the undersides of the roofs. Thrun also has written a 100-plus-page Thrun Farm Family Memoir with over 400 photos. Through the model and book, he has captured the essence of an early-to-mid-20th-Century Wisconsin farm.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas A. Thrun, retired in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, is an English/Journalism graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He edited weekly newspapers both in Wisconsin and Washington State, among other varied career choices. Thrun cites his Wisconsin farming heritage and love for Robert Frost’s poetry among top influences of his own poetic work. He has been published in his retirement both in Wisconsin and other national online anthologies. He is included among the poets whose poems on “Words” have been selected for the upcoming 2022 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.  Thrun and his wife have two grown children and two grandsons.  Thrun and his wife have two grown children and two grandsons.

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Vulturine Vespers
by Jenny Bates

On the third day without power
they came to roost by the house.

They’re here for me, I shivered.

Kept a close eye as they circled,
landed in the yard.

Someone died in the freak storm,
It was not me.

As the Vulture spread its wings
shrouding, hiding the dead

I fell in love with that embrace.

Later that night, and before expected,
the power came back on.

The world had not ended.

I will return, just like the trees
and the birds.

The cold clasp of sound-wind gone,
sunlight and house-bound vibration

sing our evening vespers once again.

Tide of the forest flows forward, the Vulture’s
frosty breath rises sotto voce

Humans don’t own the Earth.

Yet I hope we have a lovely long Summer
together.

PHOTO: Vultures watching the sunset by Val3re.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, North Carolina Poetry Society, and North Carolina Writers Network. Her published books include Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, NC,  2010), Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC 2014), Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019), and Slipher new collection (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020).

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Encore
by Julene Waffle

Stretching a path toward far-off hills,
the thunder clouds, like giant snails,
leave their marks on earth.

On the horizon the rain hangs,
silver-gray drapes.
And turkey vultures—

backwoods revival pastors
raise their arms in blessing—
are frozen in horaltic pose,

wing-dry their great fans of feathers
in the top of a bony tree.
Their empty nostrils, catching sky,

eagerly working olfactory bulbs—
do they, too, feel the bliss
of ozone and wet earth?

And when the storm curtain rises at last
and tucks behind the stage of the universe,
the great show of sunset begins

its lacy yellow steps and grand jetés,
red across the sky, its sweeping
orange grand révérence before purple night.

I applaud,
stand,
beg for more.

PHOTO: Turkey Vulture drying wings in tree (Central Massachusetts, Feb. 26, 2011). Photo by Mcvoorhis.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired to write this poem after a soccer game my sons played in a rain storm. The storm cleared after the game and while we were waiting for the boys to gather their things, I saw these strange shapes in a dead tree across the street from the school. I knew they were birds, big birds, but I didn’t know what kind. I was drawn to them, so I got out of the car with my camera and zoomed in. They were turkey vultures with their wings spread wide to dry. As I returned to the car, the sky broke out in a most lovely sunset. I wanted to capture the retreat of the storm, the vultures, and the setting sun and after a little research on the vultures and ballet, “Encore” was born. I like this one because I think the vulture has a bad reputation when in reality they are a very cool creature.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julene Waffle, a graduate of Hartwick College and Binghamton University, is a teacher in a rural New York State public school, an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother of three boys, two dogs, three cats, and, of course, she is a writer. Her work has appeared in NCTE’s English Journal, La Presa, The Non-Conformist, and Mslexia, among others. She was also published in the anthologies American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery and Seeing Things (2020)and her chapbook So I Will Remember was published in 2020Visit her at wafflepoetry.com.

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Catacombs
by Umar Saleh Gwani

We hunted and gathered
domesticating with ease,
we conquered

We tied leashes, halters,
often some fine ornaments
at altars built in celebrating
our might

Intelligent life sounds more
like advancement in running
like software to nowhere,
while mother sleeps

What if she’s nursing fatigue,
wounds from tons of emissions,
ego defined, war here,
battle there?

Let the earth heal and humans
learn to coexist and clean up,
so mother’s torn ligaments
can grow back strong.

PAINTING: Red Sun by Arthur Dove (1935).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem attempts to highlight Man’s abilities to conquer his terrain and overpower other creatures but how humans have been neglectful about sustaining the environment by cutting down, emissions, and other harmful practices leading to climate change. We are orphans once this earth dies.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Umar Saleh Gwani is an Information & Communications Technology consultant based in Bauchi, Nigeria. His hobbies include poetry, digital photography, and outdoor sports. He is the author of Thunderclap (ISBN: 978-978-56200-4-7), a poetry collection published by AMAB Books Nigeria, and his poems have been featured by online publishers such as Konya Shams Rumi and Praxis online Magazine.  He is married with children.

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Warblers, Ibis, Sparrows, Bittern, Kingfishers
by Ed Ruzicka

Even swaddled, Baby Henry wriggles
as if a worm works inside him.
He spits up onto cotton draped
over my daughter’s shoulder.

I call Baby Henry “Killer” because
my daughter is one of the new-minted
Fatima’s whose eyes flash above masks
as she whisks into patient’s rooms,
attends them bedside, orders new meds.

Martin, her husband, is even more at risk
in the ICU where he has to force tubes
down sedated throats so a machine
can fill failed lungs. Both carry
the hospital home to wee bean Henry.
Neither lets us within ten feet of our little pip.
No telling what might have found its way
into the frail birdcage of his ribs.

Renee and I stand on the lawn.
The three of them stay by the door.
Martin shows us what they call “Superman.”
Martin puts Baby Henry tummy down
over his shoulder. Sleepy Henry stretches
halfway straight, maybe too dangerously close
to an unseen load of Kryptonite.

The next weekend we take the canoe out.
Oars on knees, wind nudges us under
cypress branches luminous as lettuce.
A yellow bibbed bird lights, fluffs
six feet above Renee’s shoulder. Maybe
a vireo, maybe a warbler? Let’s go with vireo.
Back out in the lake we drift through dozens
of birdcalls, each an illegible signature
with its own set of runs, quavers, fades.

I barely know a handful. Maybe I’ll
recognize more by the time I get young Henry
into a boat, row him around, teach him to keen
into the silence behind all the birdsongs
that will have gone extinct before he
learns to tune his own ears up.

PHOTO: Philadelphia vireo. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem moves from the early Covid period to the amphitheater of a nearby lake where birds still thrive. Every year now I listen deeper and deeper into our mornings and try to hear just a few shrill notes from the bushes. We used to have so many birds that crossed over or stayed in our yard and neighborhood. Now though the city has learned better how to quash the mosquito population, though ants choke to death on pesticides in underground chambers and hallways, though the lawns are lush with chemical nutrients and weed killers, the birds are few and are dwindling.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka’s most recent book of poems, My Life in Cars, was released a year ago. Ed’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Rattle, Canary, the Xavier Review and the San Pedro River Review, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. A finalist for the Dana Award and the New Millennium Award, Ed is an Occupational Therapist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he lives with wife, Renee.

PHOTO: The author on a lake near his home in Louisiana. 

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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.