Imogen Wade – Wildfire

Imogen Wade

Last week’s wildfire burned the woods;
through the rain, I can see its absence.
Pillars of smoke bulldozed for days, like
a Kool-Aid cult’s gates to the afterlife.

We killed the lights at bedtime, Blitz;
windows thrown open in the heatwave
to scout the breeze—instead, our rooms
held the sound of fire hoses on the hills.

Above the city is a new planet where
nothing grows, its borders demarcated
by singed gold. Pine trees are looming
like Stonehenge sarsens around an altar.

Or like a fairy circle, which is a prettier
notion, and reminds me of the old stories
of my country. But when I step inside:
there is no other world, or other self.

Catharine Clark-Sayles – Degrees of Disaster

Catharine Clark-Sayles
Degrees of Disaster

we melt at one hundred and eleven, eggs fry on sidewalks,
bare feet blister, reports of heat stroke, usually foggy mornings
blaze up to hot at dawn as degrees mount into swelter.
Fans and ice water are not keeping me safe, one more risk
to this crumbling body with its tenuous balance of flesh.

The earth plays bad cop, sweats out my confession at night
when it cools to ninety-two and sleep remains in a distant valley,
I cough air smoky from fires and an orange moon near full
jacklights my bed, pins me to consider guilt: those lovely
long drives for the pleasure of driving, my fifteen-minute idle

while the windshield ice melts in winter, open-window idle
with car AC on blast until the steering wheel cools for comfort,
how many bottles of water have I purchased and casually tossed,
how many weeds have I sprayed. Confess: recycled bottles,
and cardboard is too little, too late. Meatless Mondays not enough.

Glaciers melt, seas rise, floods and drought and forest fires—
a roundabout of destruction—earth will find equilibrium
with sapien fossils for whatever comes next.

Matthew Friday – All the Storks

Matthew Friday
All the Storks

At Dandora landfill zombies stalk
a city of refuse stacked in the middle
of slums. They sludge the avenues
for plastic bottles, bags, metal slivers,

electronics to sell, scraps for lunch,
wincing with chest pain caused by
smoke seeping out of the heaps,
abdominal pain of kidneys kicked

by the rainbow flavoured waters.
Thousands of single mothers, young
men with sterile bulb eyes, wheezy
school children compete for life

expectancy with marabou storks,
all of them walking fossils amongst
Nairobi’s Anthropocene arcades.
At least the storks can fly away.

Heather Swan – History

Heather Swan

your body is a smooth body
your body is a desert drilled for petroleum
your body is a trout stream drying
your body is a splinter pulled from the tree
your body is a ferris wheel at the carnival spinning
you may not recognize this body
you did not remain silent, but still
your body is a jet plane carrying other bodies
your body is spent jet fuel
you may not understand the words
your body is an old story, your body is a tweet
your body is an orchard, a tendril, a ripened plum falling
your body is a wound
you may not remember the blades or the blasts
your body is an astral body, a celestial body
a body barely understood as body
but it is the only body you have
and it holds your honeyed secrets and it holds your lead
body of air, body of atoms, body of light

Gail Tirone – Prayer for a Warming Planet

Gail Tirone
Prayer for a Warming Planet

May the ice caps remain solid
may the permafrost stay frozen
reliably there
at the top of the world.

May the whales continue
to sing and spout
may fish still frolic in the seas.

May California return
as a basket of bounty
berries, figs and dates
arbours ripe with grapes
instead of scorched-earth wildfires
and biblical droughts.

May the waters of Venice calm
and not flood the cathedrals
may Piazza San Marco have
no need of planks
poised above rising tides
may tourists mingle
with locals in the cafes
over pastries and latte
watching the pigeons flutter
and children play.

H. K. G. Lowery – The Only Earth

H. K. G. Lowery
The Only Earth

Oceans, climbing
into clouds as land
loosens, realigns.
Chasms. Creeks. Craters.
Polar bears
and their offspring,
from dying ice.
on black water.
without their howl
in flamed forests.
like cocaine.
gripping skyscrapers.
in the madness.

Simon Brod – Emergency Cord

Simon Brod
Emergency Cord

Our train is about to crash.

Many passengers believe it won’t happen.
They sink back
into lattes, memes, dreams.

Some are expecting only minor disruption.
They sigh,
review agendas,
reschedule appointments.

A few are beginning to look at maps.
They struggle to understand scale,
but hope
to find a convenient siding to turn onto and wait
until danger has passed.

One or two have gone pale.
They lose their breath,
bite their nails,

Only a maniac would insist
the train must stop
and everyone continue on foot.

People would have to cross the tracks unaided.
Those with first-class tickets, join the rest and walk.
Our baggage is more than we can carry.
Our feet might get blisters. We might get rained on.

Yes, it seems things really have gone off the rails.

Mandira Pattnaik – Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

Mandira Pattnaik
Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

was Zoev. Strung like a taut wire. In the dirty unapologetic puddle, Sun got poached. Howls of people they addressed as Leftovers — separated from those that left for a permanent exile — rung in his ears. Skies above, as clear as mirror, held no promise of rain. Light reflected from everything except the blackened-out mounds of earth. Zoev stood on the causeway next to the sludge of toxic chemicals, to his right were weeds shrouded under soot.
      Things had precipitated fast. Way too fast. How many days ago was he in the cockpit of a fighter jet bombing the land below? A mere switch of the button had rained gamma rays; everything got decimated; wildly circling vultures were all that there was left to show for life. Lastly, the prized land—barren, a chemical dump—had meant nothing. Hours later, they had ordered an emergency evacuation to the edge of the planet. Beyond the boundaries of known homes.
      Suicidal shame it was—the waiting ships’ crew had body-scanned the passengers for microbes. Deaths and diseases on the journey were unaffordable—they had scanned people inside out. Passengers had buckled onto seats, five in a numbered chamber, packed from floor to ceiling with fuel and food.
      Amidst bursts of confetti, people had thrown wads of currency, rejoicing because they’d been allowed into the journey. As a final unshackling.
      Little did they know: money was ash. Money, dust.
      Zoev had scrambled to get onto the ship. Far too many here—everyone murmured under their breaths. People got squished; there was a stampede. The problem needs trouble shooting—someone had suggested. There was a shower of bullets; people had fallen like game animals—bloodied and maimed in a heap, but nobody could care less.
      Alas! Zoev was stopped at the final passage—a trace of the ordinary flu!
      Zoev decided to run along the causeway, turning back spitefully to see the glistening tip of ships leaving for another street, an away home, pointing to the skies, looming over the burnt out stumps of Cedars.
      He ran as fast as he could—dejected, hungry and thirsty. He thought he’d die of thirst. Finally, he sneaked into the humble roads of the town he once lived in. He stood outside his childhood home, taken over by a family of overgrown plants, black nightshade, pink water speedwell, water plantain and dwarf spurge, all dying, or just tethered to life.
      He looked around: Once the pride of the Mediterranean, now a ghostly town of half-eaten buildings, the crowns all smoked black. Yawning windows screamed—shrieks which none heard. They had bombed the town before it was too late. The ships wouldn’t have room for everybody.
      Zoev, a prisoner of the Sun and skies and whatever became of its clouded amalgamation, trudged through the ashen blocks, the smell of death was overpowering. His tongue hung loose.
      Evening descended. He watched the crepuscular skies sliced by white and black fumes rising from the destroyed precincts. Insignia of stupidity!
      Zoev thought of the calm turquoise planet it once was; and saw only tufts of amber dead grass. He remembered Jane, his wife. He thought of his mom. I’ll fall back on lives and afterlives; I’ll own you forever. His eyes welled up.
      Further down the street, he saw a Rottweiler at the bend—black and mahogany, its forehead arched. It was hungry; narrowed its eyes to measure the domain challenger. Zoev aimed his pocket knife like a spear at the animal. He stood like a Greek statue and threw. At lightning speed, the Rottweiler charged, an arrow off a bow. The spear had no chance. The dog struck the man to the ground and with its paws held him to the dust till his head threatened to burst. Zoev lay like dead. The animal paused and circled him.
      Tired Zoev wanted death; he did not beg for mercy. But the animal gave him pardon and crouched. The night they spent face to face. Nothing moved, only the ships leaving, one after another.
      When the sun emerged, all fire and fury, Zoev rose to his feet. He wasn’t sure if he was grateful to be alive. He ignored the Rottweiler but it followed as they paced together across the once-charmed cobbled walkways, down to the river, east of town.
      They saw traffic frozen in time; cars mangled; cycles twisted in a heap when the people tried to escape like mad.
      The river lay dead. Zoev walked over its broken bed, and reached its dried middle. He began to dig furiously—in its depths may lie the native element that could quench his thirst.
      The Rottweiler watched him surreptitiously, afraid of the fanatic man. From the core of its being rose a voice—ingenuity of man is matched only by his unwise actions! Zoev kept on digging deeper. No trace of water. Mounds of dry sand piled; blood oozed from his fingers.
      Now a dust storm rose, obscured the definitiveness of day or night. Winds came in from every side. Man and animal, unguarded, were like offerings to the elements. Zoev screamed —not a wise thing to do—sand entered his mouth, blinded his eyes. He was beginning to give up when the Rottweiler darted towards the stone banks, led, the man ran behind.
      They reached a dark cavern, the corners of which were lit by a feeble ethereal light. Zoev did not know where he was; he stood numb and drained. In that light, the Rottweiler marked out—clear water seeping by the rock sides, like a melting heart. The dog watched the man lick, like a return to the native element after the apocalypse.   AQ

Matthew Brennan – Old Trees in the Woods, Doomed to Re-zoning

Matthew Brennan
Old Trees in the Woods, Doomed to Re-zoning

They’ve been here longer than we’ll ever know,
grand guardians of all that’s still beneath
their sway. Their leafy dark green branches bunch

so closely that they interweave. From one,
a hawk takes off and skims their tallest crowns,
vaults into clouds that sometimes almost graze

the waving outstretched limbs. Oaks tower over
saplings in a nearby neighbourhood,
yet shade and shelter them from day to day.

The saplings will survive somehow, bereft
of the knowledge the oldest trees transmit. Their roots
reach out to teach the others how to thrive,

to grow in silence and slow time. And then
when dusk breaks in and darkness floods the woods,
sunlight reaching just the upper branches,

only these trees, so far outlasting all,
can hold onto the gleams they soon will lose.

Fin Keegan – How to Liberate Planet A

Fin Keegan
How to Liberate Planet A

Curious to think that
at a conservative estimate
there are several trillion planets
in the universe—and more

by the time you read this.
But reckon with this:
we are small—so small that
there is not much of a

difference between us
and the newt by the gate.
And he is no more going to
move to another planet

than we are going to find
the square root of minus one.
No new planets for us then,
for all that we can count them and

like to imagine ourselves upon them.
The metaverse of course
will seek to persuade you otherwise,
as will TV and, alas, books:

all ‘entrenchments’
as Nietzsche correctly saw.
Talk to your neighbour:
he is still there in spite of all.

That is where the liberation
of Planet A will begin.