those colossal sea walls, once thought impenetrable
toes buried in grains of sand on a dwindling beach,
she wonders what it feels like, plunging into those depths.
Atlantis sank for its hubris; her home will sink despite its virtue.
acrid taste of that burnt, splendous Californian sunset
settles on her tongue
fluttering ash, a maddening dash
all is cinders in a smoldering forge.
brittle, withered, shriveled
wizened face creased, lines baked into his sun-loved face
wondering why rain, long gone friend, had forsaken him
leaving only cracks in the earth behind.
white fur plastered against a husk
cowering on a lonely piece of ice
fallen from its former majesty
a king of beasts with no kingdom.
languid steps through the water on the street
she may as well be a raft drifting alone –
a little hand clutches tightly around her neck,
face slicked with water or tears, the difference is unclear.
channel five at 7AM every morning, stories in a box
greenland’s glaciers could lose more ice-
on this episode of keeping up with…
the alarm sounds, dully registering in the back of his head
case in hand, step after step, out the door
pitter patter of old soles on a concrete path.
same newspaper on the dingy, rusty rack
faint buzzwords as he scans the headlines
“climate change… united nations…”
delicate gray lines on a fresh crossword
reels the stuffy words out.
smiles stretched across delicate, gleaming teeth of his coworkers
hushed tones murmuring about the morning article about this “global warming”
a solemn affair indeed; not fit for conversation over a company meal
the blaring alarm is discarded in favor of
dismal banter and petty gossip.
channel five at 7PM every night, stories in a box
flickering light from distant pixels
shots of despairing faces, whispers of waters rising
he wears a face of polite disinterest
“what a tragedy”
empty phrases litter the ground.
for what is it to him?
long as his pockets are lined
and Fortune plenty,
it is another man’s problem.
after all, how can you fear what you cannot conceive?
the knights of arthur once sat at a round table
best among men, equal among brothers.
around this new table of “distinguished fellows” and “honorable leaders”
squabbling amongst one another at an
“esteemed conference regarding the critical issue of climate change,”
those times seem a distant dream.
scribbled notes tucked in the folder next to her,
a lifetime dedicated to searching for solutions
yet they refuse to meet her gaze: a scientist is nothing to a politician.
not our responsibility- unreasonable!!
of course we should do something…
the world has gone mad indeed!
sea foam smothers their eyes and their ears
she may as well be gurgling, babbling, speaking gibberish
when she pleads with facts, with figures, with science
to do something, to do anything
but the economy- we will lobby! sir, with all due respect…
the oil companies- how do you know it is real?
a bitter sigh, her eyes meet the hands of the clock,
steady in its onset, resolute in its pursuit
the summit will be over soon – platitudes will be given
a fancy piece of paper adorned with countless signatures of men who will go home
as a federation of elected idlers –
old dogs do not learn new tricks.
your ancestors fiddled as Rome burned
as the silken oil slunk into the waters
as the rip-roaring waves collided with the shoreline
as the song of the birds wavered on its grand final note,
snuffed out by the benzene or by that damn chloride.
when the frenzy of strings and notes came to an end,
mother earth had already become barren, neglected by her children
bitter as the lead that seeped through her skin.
jammed within the withered, gaunt skeleton
of a city that once met the sky
your heart is filled with doubt,
incredulous at the scenes in the stories in a box:
of colors so brilliant, ones that could only be found
in a gently babbling creek
ringed by sycamores or willows or maples
or a gleaming sky so bright
your finger could trace the tales in the stars.
the sky tells no such stories anymore.
i’ve heard that a story is never complete
without different perspectives
that one narrator is hardly sufficient
and that knowledge is a much greater burden than ignorance.
now that you know
what will you do?
Why I Wrote This Poem
This piece was written during the “Write to Discovery Program.” I wrote this poem to highlight how climate change is a multifaceted issue, as it affects people from all walks of life around the world. Each section of the poem takes on a perspective of someone different, whether that be someone already suffering from the consequences of climate change or someone who is living blissfully unaware of the situation. This poem urges the reader to make their own change and examine their own perspective on climate change, as it’s ultimately an issue that will affect us all.