Archives for posts with tag: environment

upstate ny robinson
How I Help Heal the Earth from Upstate New York
by Joanne Corey

✔ Install LED lights
✔ Buy solar panels
✔ Drive an electric car
✔ Insulate
✔ Switch on heat pump
✔ Switch off natural gas
✔ Be efficient
✔ Eat less meat
✔ Eat more plants
✔ Grow more plants
✔ Read the science
✔ Educate yourself
✔ Educate others
✔ Vote
✔ Write elected officials
✔ Call elected officials
✔ March
✔ Make noise
✔ Demand action
✔ Boycott climate culprits
✔ Support climate defenders
✔ Assist victims
✔ Honor indigenous peoples
✔ Follow the youth
✔ Keep my head above water
✔ Hope
✔ Breathe

PHOTO: Reflection of fall leaf colors at Barnum Pond at sunrise, Adirondacks, Upstate New York by Diana Robinson (Sept. 22, 2021).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was heavily involved in the fight against fracking in New York State, which segued more generally into climate activism. My main role has been to write commentary and letters with the occasional opportunity for in-person events. Systemic change is absolutely necessary to heal the world but I also feel personal responsibility in my own use of fossil fuels, so our family has been working over years toward being as fossil-fuel-free as possible. We were thrilled two years ago when we were finally able to disconnect our home from methane. This poem shows some ways to help heal the earth as an individual and as part of a local, national, and global community. It will take billions of us, each doing the work that is theirs to do.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanne Corey is pleased to contribute to another series with Silver Birch Press. She currently lives in upstate New York, where she participates with the Binghamton Poetry Project, Broome County Arts Council, and Grapevine Group. With the Boiler House Poets Collective, she has completed an (almost) annual residency week at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams since 2015. She invites you to visit her eclectic blog at topofjcsmind.wordpress.com.

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The Last Seed
by Judith Comer

“It’s not about what it is. It is about what it can become.” The Lorax

The Lorax left as all was dying
Wrote “Unless” as his warning
Only one seed left in humanity’s pocket
Let me help reverse this awful legacy
Climb off that last toppled tree
Climb down Profit Motive Hill
And onto the thirsty earth
And open wide the floodgates of mercy

Hold the seed of the Common Good
Up to the Light
Bear it high above the fray of self-interest
Higher than the bottom line
Higher than the litany:
“I want what I want when I want it!”

Plant that seed deep into the soil
Of this one universal truth
We are all Earthlings!
The destiny of our mother
Is in our hands.
It is in mine.

Let me join hands with all the children
Encircling our aging, suffering mother
Let us love her back to health
For her milk is our sustenance
And without her, we perish.

Our carbon footprint is
Crushing her lungs
Let me walk barefoot
Our desire for more and more
Is crippling her ability to provide
Let me crave less.

As our mother struggles to heal
Let me take only what I truly need
And share the rest with the world
Let me consume less for the good of all
That all my siblings have a chance at life
I will choose glass over plastic
Recycle and reuse
Eat vegetarian
Plant for pollinators
And trust such small efforts
Will multiply for good
Like loaves and fishes
I will give from my bounty
Until I know what it means to sacrifice
I will sign petitions, protest,
Write my Senators
Support policies that protect
The Earth—land, air, the seas
I will speak up even when it is not popular.
I will not be silent.

As I let go my sense of entitlement
My heart expands
My voracious stomach shrinks
I am truly free to love and be loved.
As our mother embraces me, rotating
Dancing among the stars.

I will grab hold of her green apron
Climb up that wide expanse
And find myself once again
In the bosom of a mighty forest
Will the Lorax return?
Will this dream come true?
Together we hold the last seed.
The healing is in our hands
The healing is in my hands
And it is powerful.

IMAGE: Cover for the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, originally published in 1971.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Being out in the natural world is life-giving to me and where I receive much spiritual sustenance, especially from the energy in trees. As the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of six youngsters, the future of our planet is very much on my mind and heart. I wrote this poem as the negotiations at COP26 were under way. My heart went out to Greta Thunberg and the other young activists who are trying to be heard above the clamor of competing political interests represented by delegations from all the participating nations. I was transported back to my bedtime reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to my own young children, a time when I was first becoming aware of the looming environmental crisis.   wanted to write a poem to encourage Greta and her peers to continue to believe their dream can come true; that the power is in their hands; that they have more power than they know; and they are not alone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judith Comer worked as an educator of the gifted and talented, a speech/language pathologist, and a pre-kindergarten teacher before settling in her last career as an Episcopal priest. She is also a yogi and Reiki practitioner. Today, she dabbles in walking meditation, photography, and spiritual reflection. Judith’s walks along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay on Alabama’s coast and on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee afford her the opportunity to be mindful and snap photos of those things that grab her attention. She then reflects on those images and writes poetry about her insights. Judith can be found on Facebook.

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Reciprocity
by Alexis Rotella

In a small rural town a man high on a ladder paints his wood frame
house. At the top of his voice, he sings one tune after another,
mostly from the oldies-but-goodies era. Across the street a neighbor
makes requests. Do the locomotion, he shouts. The painter doesn’t
miss a beat. Into each song, he empties what’s deep inside his heart.

As we watch this interchange, an orange tabby makes a beeline toward
my husband, then rolls on his back for a long belly rub.

                                Two bottles in a box
                                one labeled goodness
                                the other love

PAINTING: Cat in the Garden by Walasse Ting (1981).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I turned this dream into a poem and wanted to share the joy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis Rotella is a veteran writer of Japanese poetry forms in English. Her books include Between Waves and The Color Blue  published by Red Moon Press. A practitioner of Oriental Medicine in Arnold, Maryland, Alexis is also a mobile photographer and digital artist.

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At The Big Sweep
by Paul Jones

No one likes to wade
knee deep in the creek
to pull out plastic
snags from the places
turtles seek the sun.
I pretend I do
to do the hard work
that needs to be done.
I take what I have
of magic, of what
I found of pleasure,
in cleaning the creek.
I remember why
I hate what mud can
do to weigh plastic,
to make the load twist
and shudder and shift.
My feet find new paths
in the sucking mud,
some purchases on stone,
that lead to the bank.
My slow slogs resets
stream’s rushing free flow.
I remember nights
I couldn’t fall asleep
on a mountain train
how it like the creek
would twist, turn, and shift
along the river.
I got off the train
and it moved again.
More smoothly or so,
it seemed as distance
grew and the river
ran in parallel.
I knew then, as here,
that joy comes when work
and journeys are done.

PAINTING: Scene from the Train Window by Martiros Sarian (1960).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Big Sweep is a continuing volunteer effort to free the waterways and other natural areas of litter — especially plastic. Some may find these efforts a pleasure, but for me these necessary tasks are more rewarding in retrospect when you can see the results from a distance in time and space. Writing is, of course, similar as are taxing trips on rattling trains.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Jones has published poems in Poetry, Red Fez, Broadkill Review, 2River View, Silver Birch Press’ “I am waiting series,” and anthologies including Best American Erotic Poems. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common. His book Something Wonderful came from Redhawk Publishing in November 2021. A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon in 2019. He was inducted into the North Carolina State Computer Science Hall of Fame in November 2021.

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The Story Of Our Lives
by Ndaba Sibanda

The story
on the state
of the world
reignites his
reading ritual—
it torches a fierce fire
in his soul, in his heart,
his mind wonders & races
after the mysterious variants
that are causing nothing else but
mayhem and misery across the world,
he rebukes: stop this archaic hide & seek
game, how can you change the rules of the
match in the middle of the game? this isn’t
entertaining, fair & sharp, it’s cruel, variants!
that’s why Heartlessness is your…first name
& nickname, Mulishness is…your surname!

Forsaken floods & wildfires, & other disasters,
I puncture your tireless tyre with a powerful prayer!
for our planet & its people need peace & progress,
I see more & more conservationists, editors & scribes
contribute to the action and activism on climate change.

A work of art
that explores
the greater snags
the global village
faces on a daily basis
especially the climate
change crisis and the corona
virus…paaaa…pandemonium,
oh…my confessions…pandemic!

Previously published in Lipi Magazine.

PAINTING: Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories, and Sentiments by Pat Steir (1990).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is my impassioned appeal and prayer for the urgent attendance and resolution to the climate change crisis.

Ndaba Sibanda

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ndaba Sibanda is a Bulawayo-born poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has authored 26 published books of various genres and persuasions and has coauthored more than 100 published books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Page & Spine, Piker Press, SCARLET LEAF REVIEW, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review, Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine,  The Borfski Press,  East Coast Literary Review and  Whispering Prairie Press. He has received nominations from the national arts merit awards (NAMA), the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize, the Best of the Net Prose, and the Pushcart Prize.

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Thirty-One Totems of Respect for Empathy
by Dan Paracka

In the dream to save my soul, I map the butterfly’s path, paths worn       deep, meaning laid bare,
try hard to keep pace, making the implicit explicit, the unfamiliar familiar.

To powerful dirt not heaven look for ancestors’ wisdom buried deep       within,
down on my knees, soil sifts through fingers, watching plants grow and       seasons change.

Third eye fell upon stolen lands, rivers of lost languages whisper about
birch bark, wild rice, acorns, honeysuckle, tree frogs, lotus root, lichen,       and moss.

To cultivate rice use feet, hands, repetitively, plough under, pull weeds,       irrigate regularly,
wait, watch, scare away birds, glean, winnow, chaff, boil.

Practice discipline, suffer freedom, do not waste genuine regard,
quiet truths, looking for nothing, finding beauty in everyday doubts.

The blind sees utopias, humbled empowerment sits cross-legged under       a tree
encircled by an old growth forest in pregnant silence and emptiness.

Pure shiny bright blue green pearl island, orphaned slave child rising       above tyranny
with acts of kindness, combatting climate change and nuclear       proliferation.

To find hospitality among strangers in small gestures’ unspoken warmth,
a policy of noninterference, of patient reassurance, life-affirming       conversations.

Learning to see the best in others, to appreciate the hardships, they, too,       have endured,
inadequate and overwhelmed, always wanting more from the family of       ten thousand proverbs.

Wrestling identity with all the fear, anger, hatred running amok, roadkill,       isms,
war-torn, war-weary, greedy twisting of everything into advantage.

Apathy of affluence, planned obsolescence, fast fried industrialized       process foods, computer
compartment grind, incessant drive-thru commodity delivery noise, thick       layered cultural debris.

Trampling over tourist routes past insidious deals my government makes,
through rainbow layers of soap scum blanketing mangroves in oily froth.

Forgotten plant wisdom, all her protective instincts exposed raw nerves,       abysmal fissures,
spoon fed, either/or right and wrong answers, as privilege appropriated       corrupts.

No watershed sanctuary, no forest remedies stockpiled, growing       wastelands,
flooded gulfs, body fidgets, awakened from sickly comfort.

Immersed in transactional, competitive zero-sum worldviews, bent on       how to get ahead,
an acidic climate overheated results in massive species extinction.

To extricate truth from the onslaught of lies manipulation, where it may be       vaguely possible to discern
commitment in the river’s flow against the witchcraft of
      self-centeredness.

Migrate as severe drought leads to famine, poor powerless minority,       labeled criminal, unprotected
vulnerable victim, left alone to starve, deserted in time of need to die.

To escape persecution, lost homeland, refugee family flees violent       homeland,
secretly crosses border to hoped-for safety, their son killed by a state       that felt threatened.

Restore dignity to extended family of compromise, where one might       surrender
the limits of our human self and stop imagining the world as a dangerous       place.

Welcoming recognition for creative hardworking immigrants, desperate       for a better life
without borders of control, sustainable justice, alternative energy flows,       existential being.

To regain what is lost, nurturing rhythms, restful replenishment,       reconciliation,
memory of appreciation for all that nature openly gives.

Forest ecologists, tree physiologists, evolutionary biologists, thankful for       trees
talking to each other, deciding to fruit and flower together in abundance,       returning blessings.

Off road, grassroots, ecotherapists, healing stewards engaged in       sequestration,
reforestation, decarbonization, recycling, reuse, repair.

Sun rays, ocean drops, threads handwoven into cloth, cloud roots,       craggy peaks, aimless steps,
foggy marsh, dream journeys, stone cairns, grounded present, reflective       breaths.

Serene pine knolls nestled undergrowth covered with dew, creation       dances barefoot all night as stars
sing to the moon at the festival of happiness in the palace of inner peace.

Turtles tote lotus flowers, beetles light candles, find sustenance in       aesthetic delight,
sunshine comforts forgiveness, water a living spirit, equity sustainability.

Beating hearts remember, wisdom confesses ignorance, inspiration floats       on breeze,
lodges in cliff, grows into a garden, procreates love.

Tearful cheeks on smiling face, bearing gifts, weeds are wildflowers, roots       resemble branches, light of
laughter, reaches, searches distant shore, hears hatred, retreats, surfs,       and returns.

One planet with common problems in need of collective solutions finds       freedom through social justice
towards transformative reciprocity, learning how to walk, how to breathe,       how to love.

There is joy in the fruits of the earth, in giving back to the wealth of       community, across species,
peacemaker, caretaker, thankful for symbiosis.

Tree full of grace, sprouting under canopy, growing towards the light, in       the security of earth’s embrace,
filtering water nutrients, supplying fresh, cool, clean air, not going it alone.

PAINTING: Dahomey by Lois Mailou Jones.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem each pair of lines conjures up a totem, spiritual relationships symbolizing heaven, earth, and humanity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Asking forgiveness for things said without thinking, thankful for becoming imperfectly other, holding the healing power of nature sacred, Dan Paracka, was born in New York City and grew up meandering among the creeks and ridges of southern Appalachia. A global citizen, he lived in Sierra Leone, West Africa, for two years as a rice farmer, palm wine tapper, and Peace Corps Volunteer. He also taught English in the People’s Republic of China for two years where he learned to speak Mandarin. He is currently a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Kennesaw State University and has served as an international educator for over 30 years helping students learn about intercultural interdependence. He is a son, brother, husband, and father. In his spare time, he grows bonsai trees and learns patience.

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My Mistake
by Mary McCarthy

When an army of hungry
orange and black caterpillars
stripped bare half
my passion flower vine
almost overnight
I saw nothing but
their ravenous appetite
their warning armor
of black spikes.
I pulled them off
one by one
the way I would pluck
big green hornworms
from my tomato plants,
and crush them with
a booted foot.

Too late I learned
these were the larva
of the Gulf Fritillary
butterfly, a beauty,
and passion flower vine
not merely its favorite
but its only host.
How could I refuse them
their necessary food
after planting milkweed
for the monarchs,
shunning pesticides
and fertilizers,
learning to love
those humble plants
whose virtues go unnoticed
because they are not showy?

I had no excuse
for extermination,
doubly wrong
because even this hungry army
can only curb, not end
the rampant growth
of its chosen host
limiting its kudzu ambitions
enough to allow recovery–
While my murderous efficiency
could upset the essential
balance, worm and vine,
lives so absolutely
intertwined.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeding on Passion Flower. Photo by Gwillhickers.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about healing the earth often seems like an impossibly big job, but must be preceded, I think, by a shift in attitude. Treating nature as only as it can be used for our needs and desires is a lopsided perspective, that leads to destructive acts on the smallest and most personal arenas. I regret killing all those caterpillars, and realize they would not only have become beautiful butterflies, but would have helped with all the pruning their host vine needs, keeping it reasonably under control.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar on Passion vine leaf. Photo by Filo gen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, the latest issue of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee. Her digital chapbook is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

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Seed Guardian
by Kim Whysall-Hammond

I joke that he is now a bean counter
as, indeed, he kneels to count his beans
small white capsules of DNA
strung up on life-giving proteins

He needs to send a minimum of two hundred
to a seed bank upcountry, for these beans are rare
a variety that may die out soon if not cherished
grown, saved, stored

A variety that may feed us when times are hard
but only if we keep it, saving for a rainy day

PAINTING: Green Beans by Claudia Bianchi. Prints available at etsy.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I are both keen gardeners and grow much of our own vegetables and fruit. This year, my husband has become a Seed Guardian for the UK Heritage Seed Library, saving seed from a rare variety of French beans that will became part of their stock. Different crop varieties have different strengths. As our climate changes, the usual varieties are more likely to fail us. We need seed guardians, and I am proud of him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Whysall-Hammond grew up in London but now lives where the skies are much darker. She has worked in Climate Research and in Telecommunications. Her literary poetry has appeared in Alchemy Spoon, North of Oxford, Allegro, Marble Poetry, Blue Nib, Total Eclipse, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Amsterdam Quarterly, American Diversity Report, Littoral, Crannóg, and other publications. Her speculative poetry has been published by Kaleidotrope, On Spec, Star*Line, Andromeda Spaceways, The Future Fire, Utopia Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Sciencefictionery, and Frozen Wavelets. Her poems have appeared in anthologies published by Wild Pressed Books, Milk and Cake Press, and Palewell Press. She also shares poems at thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com.

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Letter from Gaia
by Maria Nestorides

Dearest,

From the very beginning, I have let you
do as you wished with me without complaint.
Yes, I have suffered in your hands, but I am
here, after all, to be your shelter, to be your refuge,
always accepting of you, knowing without a shadow
of a doubt that the last place you lay your body will
be on mine.

I sometimes wonder if I do
not deserve any care from you, or
any consideration for my well-being. I think
if you had ever felt an inkling of love
for me, you would surely have taken the time
to read the signs, see how I’m doing, ask
what you could do to lighten my pain. Do something.

Do you even realize that your actions or
your inability to act have taken a toll on me?
I do not want to cause you any pain, but
you will force me to do just that. My endurance
has a threshold. Every action has a reaction:
you learnt this in kindergarten. Like a lover
scorned, I will bear the fruits of your negligence
and apathy and become hostile and unforgiving.

Please take care of me now that I’m still
here with you, and you have this final opportunity.
You know very well what I need. I have shown
you over and over again, and when you give
me what I need to flourish, I have done just that.
You are not a child, dearest, neither ignorant nor
naïve but despite your negligence to me, I
struggle to keep showing you my love by
bestowing upon you the best of what I have.

This will not last.

I’m begging you, please take care of me,
so that this whispered plea of mine
to you
is not uttered with my
final
breath.

Gaia.

IMAGE: White Buffalo Calf Woman by Jay Bell Redbird & Halina Stopyra. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maria Nestorides lives in sunny Cyprus. She is married and has two adult children. She has an MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her short stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, The Sunlight Press, The Story Shack, Inkitt  and she has also contributed a six-word memoir to the book Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure, by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (Jan 6, 2009). You can visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Saga of the Sea Turtles Olaf and Elsa
by Howard Richard Debs

You can’t conserve what you haven’t got
Marjory Stoneman Douglas

One hundred million years ago or more
in times before history was ever written
these ancient mariners navigated mother
earth. A 16th century account about the Florida
explorer Ponce de Leon mentions sea turtles.
Eventually many of their kind were turned into soup
at Granday’s Cannery near the foot of Margaret
Street in the Key West Bight. Before the kraals
and the nets and the pegging with small harpoons,
turtle-turning was the technique of choice. Green,
hawksbill, loggerhead, none of their sisters or
bothers had a chance. This was long before they
were declared endangered. Soon enough the
pleasure boats and the plastic took their toll.
Olaf and Elsa were victims too, but were rescued
by biologists in the winter of 2014. During one of many
visits to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, we found out they
were there and as their grandfather I was very proud of
my then six year old twins for asking what they could do,
so Kady adopted Elsa and Mady adopted Olaf. They
watched over them via the “Turtlecam” most every day.
Finally in spring 2015 the notice came: “Thanks to the care
provided through your support, Olaf and Elsa are ready
to go out in the world again” each now sporting a tag to
transmit their whereabouts via satellite so we and the scientists
could follow along for as much as a year, depending on the battery.
Olaf spent some time in the St. Lucie River, then headed north in the
Intracoastal with its high boat traffic, thankfully exiting by way of
the Fort Pierce Inlet to the Atlantic. He continued to swim northward,
before heading back into the Indian River near the Archie Carr National
Wildlife Refuge. After three months there were no more transmissions.
His antenna tag may have been damaged. We followed Elsa in her travels
far and wide. She began migrating south off the coast of Key Largo
in warm shallow waters. Within less than a month Elsa traveled
357 miles to the Marquesas Keys known as loggerhead foraging
ground, likely in good company. But she left the Keys and entered
the Gulf of Mexico showing up south of Marco Island in water
about 25 feet deep, then she continued to swim west passed
the continental shelf in waters that reach a depth of at least
10,000 feet! Next she headed towards the Texas
coast 280 miles east of Brownsville, deciding to go south
to the Yucatan Peninsula to forage off the coast of
Campeche Mexico, getting food and starting to store up reserves
for a journey to the nesting beaches. Elsa’s tag transmitted for
182 days, recording a total distance traveled of 2,745 miles.
Sea turtles live an average of 50 years and can have similar
lifespans to humans. Our family likes to think Olaf and Elsa now
have families of their own swimming out there somewhere; when
I think about the sea turtles I think about the classic 1970
Earth Day poster framed on a wall in my office as a reminder,
cartoonist Walt Kelly’s famed Pogo character
proclaiming: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

PHOTO: Sea Turtle by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Biodiversity is a key barometer for the earth’s condition. As an amateur lepidopterist and long-time member of the North American Butterfly Association I have participated in a number of “butterfly counts,” the results of many sadly point in the wrong direction. As my eldest granddaughter Allison might point out—she’s studying at the University of Florida to become a veterinarian specializing in conservation, bees being her particular interest—there are numerous ways to help. Consider donating your time and, if you can, your dollars to one of these worthy organizations: The State of the World’s Sea Turtles, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, World Wildlife Fund.

PHOTOS: “Release Day” photos of Olaf and Elsa.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His latest work  Political (Cyberwit) is the 2021 American Writing Awards winner in poetry. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.