INTERVAL TWO: The Eco-Chamber

 

Blue crocuses

Tristan Moss: Stop Off At The Plastic Planet

After deciphering
the few texts they’d been able to find,
they then saw stamped
on a transparent plastic object -
BEST BEFORE 20/11/20,
and concluded from many other
BEST BEFORES on similar items
that the only feasible explanation
for a planet so replete in plastics
was that the species who made them,
must have produced a vast amount
in a very short time,
fatally misunderstanding
the rate at which synthetic polymers decay.

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L. A. Mereoie: Greenliness Is Next To Godliness

It’s true, alas, I hang my head in shame,
I got my waste disposal wrong today.
The unrecyclables are not the same
As bottles drained of cider, stout, rosé,
Or some unnoticed little sardine tin.
I’m sure it’s only happened once or twice −
Let him first cast the stone who does not sin
And via bulging land-fill pay the price!
I’d rather give a hornet's nest a poke
Or dive deep in a pile of dung head-first
Than join the ranks of eco-unawoke
Whose planet-saving zeal’s not like a thirst.
I will reform, in this I am sincere,
And hope past faults are, globally, small beer.

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Liza McAlister Williams: Evolution

“Now polar bears come to the city of Kaktovik
[Alaska] after the community’s annual whale hunt
to feed off the scraps. With a steady stream of tourists
to view and study them, the bears are growing
increasingly accustomed to interaction with humans –
the most dangerous predators on the planet.”
Columbia Magazine Winter 2020-21


Guess which animal’s most fierce?
Quick to chase and snare and pierce?
Slow to help a friend in trouble,
Jealous of its little bubble?
Tiger? Lion? Polar bear?
Or a creature with less hair –
Take a guess – I bet you can:
Furless, coy, bipedal man . . .

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Gail White: Ballade of Vanishing Species

The Yangtze finless porpoise knows
its future isn’t much at all.
The gray whale softly floats and blows
and sings of its impending fall.
The bonobo is meek and small,
but like its fellow chimpanzees
its chances are too close to call.
And where now are the honeybees?

The mountain plover may in vain
beat threatened wings against the air.
The bison on the western plain
is vulnerable now and rare.
Endangered too the polar bear
whose isles of ice no longer freeze,
vacant the Arctic vixen’s lair.
And where now are the honeybees?

Pacific salmon (future lox)
suffer decrease with herds and prides;
few are the once-protective rocks
in which the poison-dart frog hides ;
the narwhal dips its tusk and glides
with dolphins through the toxic seas.
Nothing will turn the dugong’s tides.
And where now are the honeybees?

Our life’s no more than to say “One.”
Our fellows fall by twos and threes
like dew before the morning sun.
And where now are the honeybees?

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Susan Jarvis Bryant: Guardian of the COVID-Globe

I’m Queen of the Green at the peak of her reign –
A righteous recluse who won’t travel by train,
Hail taxis, ride trams, or take trips through blue skies
In silver-winged spewers of sin – it’s unwise.
My dark carbon footprint’s a smudge on the floor –
A blight beneath shoes by my ever-locked door . . .

I’m saving the earth – let the planet rejoice!
I’m Eco-Boudicca – I’ve no bloody choice!

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Prairie flowes in bloom

 

Max Gutmann: A Prairie Story

The prairies of the U.S.A. once bloomed in vivid hues,
which those who see the plains today will find peculiar news.
The brilliant prairie flowers all are gone that used to be.
The reason that they've vanished? Call it 2-4-D.

The farmers with their plows, who thought the little flower a weed,
worked hard to kill it, but could not entirely succeed,
and so in 1950 they were thrilled to find the key:
invention of a killer spray, this 2-4-D.

The sparkling flowers that bloomed on, in, at, all across the plains
were wiped away as if they'd been so many tiny stains
and we at last achieved the sight of prairies that were free
of prairie flowers, thanks to mighty 2-4-D.

Frank Pellett loved the prairie flower. Frank Pellett had a plan.
And confidence. And faith the power a solitary man
exerts, if bolstered by a love of strong enough degree,
could even match the power of the 2-4-D.

So for the prairie flowers' sake he managed to reserve
two acres by the highwayside and gathered up the nerve
to challenge the commission, got them somehow to decree
on this small spot, the men should not use 2-4-D.

For hours daily Pellett tried. He spread and planted seeds,
made every effort to provide for all the flowers' needs.
None bloomed the whole first year despite his working ceaselessly
to overcome the long-lived blight of 2-4-D.

Another year of fruitless toil and then another yet
Frank Pellett gave the damaged soil. He tilled, he sowed, he sweat.
Extensive three years' labor made no progress vis-à-vis
a prairie flower on land once sprayed with 2-4-D.

Then during that fourth summer, Pellet's plants began to sprout.
Before too long they pretty well turned eyeballs inside out,
amazing folks who happened where Frank Pellett's absentees
returned in force and made the barren acres fertile seas
of pigment sparkling in the heat.
No Technicolor dream could beat it anywhere.
They'd park and stare
to see the prairie spark and flare
with rainbow zest
the yellows, purples, reds
that turned the heads
of those who'd first come west.

But then one day a man drove by, a rookie at his work—
from the commission of the highways—not a man to shirk.
He felt no malice toward the way the prairie flowered; he
just had a job to do, to spray his 2-4-D.

Frank Pellett's flowers and seeds all died, and what was once their home,
the multi-colored prairieside, sits drab and monochrome,
and all across the land no prairie flower devotee
can find one, due to human error: 2-4-D.

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Patricia Bradley: Sonoma in October

The air is acrid, filled with smoke
Outdoor seating makes us choke
Still, the pinot is lovely as are the snacks
Although a fiery sky reddens at our backs.

But no one else seems in a hurry
Should we alone be the ones to worry?
Phones lie dark like buoys lost at sea
While we pick at the bread and brie.

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Robin Helweg-Larsen: Thin Thin Skin

Life on the earth is thin as dust on an apple.
25,000 miles round the planet, and if we go 2 miles high
we struggle to breathe, claw at the air, fight it, grapple.
25,000 miles round the planet, mostly sea
and if sea levels rise a foot, whole communities are lost
and if a storm gives 10 foot waves, houses and lives are lost.
We live on the thin thin skin of the earth.
Is the soil three inches deep, or a foot, or five?
Can we grow enough to survive?
We live on that thin thin skin of dirt.
And people too are fragile, their bones, organs, held in
by their thin thin skin. A knife,
a bullet, even too much sun,
will break the thin thin skin and drain the life.
And society too is fragile, with too many knives and guns,
too little respect for sun, ocean, climate change;
too many people with a thin thin skin
leading their ignorant people into the razor wire of unpredicted change.

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Martin Elster: I Came With Instructions

I came with instructions on how you may use me.
You’ve tossed them away and, instead, you abuse me
by tainting me, turning my thermostat higher,
and breeding like rodents. How different prior
to the entry of men! Dinos didn’t misuse me.

With your boats and your cars and your aircraft, you cruise me.
My derma can’t take it. You constantly bruise me
with bulldozer, drill, excavator, or fire.
I came with instructions.

You should know that your foolery doesn’t amuse me!
Though you don’t always see these events in the news – me?
I see clear as a hawk that your world will expire
if you don’t recognize that the score is now dire.
Your boss, Mother Earth, says, take steps or you’ll lose me.
I came with instructions.

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 Julia Griffin: Turn Off Your Idling Engine*

(Sign at Heathrow Bus Station)

Turn off your idling engine,
Ye drivers of the Lord;
He’s striding through the station –
Don’t make him climb on board.
The Earth is over-heating:
You’ll miss it when it’s gone;
The Moon and Mars look dismal –
Don’t leave that engine on!

Turn off your idling engine,
Don’t make our planet cough;
It’s useless while you’re parked here,
So turn the damn thing off!
Departure time’s six-thirty,
And now it’s ten past three;
Wise up, unless you’d rather
The one turned off is He.

* To the tune of Stand up, stand up for Jesus

Field of daffodils 

 


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