Bryan R. Monte
The Tipping Point

Last summer was sometimes warmer in Amsterdam
than in Madrid, Palermo, Athens, or Istanbul,
the jet stream shifting north, melting
Scandinavian glaciers, high-pressure
parked over Holland and Britain,
beach days in The Hague and Blackpool,
air conditioners chugging away for months.

This summer a heat dome covered the Western US
and Southwestern Canada, 40°C+ weather for weeks,
forest fires and pyronadoes leaping, whirling
over the usually rainy, cool forests,
800 dead, the tundra farther north melting,
awakening forty-century-old viruses and germs,
buildings torn apart by soggy, sinking ground,
and a cold dome over the Rhineland and Benelux
dumped three months rain in one night,
cars, lorries, fachwerk timber houses, and roads
swept away by muddy torrents, then smashed
and ripped apart against bridges, 200 dead
and more buried beneath the slurry.

And in my neighbourhood this past year,
twelve trees felled: two white-barked birches
and two lollypop topiary trees across the road,
two, four-story Napoleonic-era oaks
behind the new, white luxury flats,
a century old sycamore, whose trunk had bent
a rusted ornamental black iron fence,
a holly tree’s white wood, sharp green leaves,
and red berries chopped up in a kerbside tip,
the park’s towering Italian cypress
reduced to woodchips in two days,
and three locust trees around an old brick warehouse
cut down, the building demolished,
replaced with nine, new brick townhouses
with easy-maintenance gravelled and paved front gardens.

The rich act like Wall-E’s obese orbiting
spacecruiseship passengers waiting seven centuries
for robots to clean up the contaminated earth below
so they can finally disembark, millionaire and billionaire
tourists rocketing to the black edge of space,
to the tipping point, weightless for just a few minutes
before falling back to earth, dreaming of visiting
space stations and living on lunar and Martian colonies,
while admiring the Rockies’ rugged spines below,
not noticing these mountains’ smoky grey clouds
or those in the Arctic tundra and Amazon jungle,
forgetting there is now no other place for everyone to go,
space deadly, and the moon and Mars, still uninhabitable.