Adrienne Stevenson – Too Many

Adrienne Stevenson
Too Many

we have already tipped, have you noticed yet?
violence escalates through nature, led by us
denial cannot make us unnatural—merely blind

take any population:
      a dish of bacteria
      a cage of rats
provide food, allow to multiply
observe the crash when food gives out

extrapolate to humanity
solve for how many planets we need
      to satisfy endless appetite and growth
divide our population by double that
(we deign to permit other species)
subtract the industrial age
      to calculate a stability point
aim for that

if we don’t act, we will be acted upon
our planet will slough us off
like so many dead skin cells
disappearing down the shower drain

Joe Cottonwood – She grows bristlecone pines

Joe Cottonwood
She grows bristlecone pines

as house plants, drops little seeds
into paper cups with harsh soil
from Sierra mountainside,
sunburnt seedlings frosted,
parched, neglected for weeks
fitting nature’s plan,
her windowsill a forest
growing with the speed
of centuries.

Her bedroom is cramped.
She sleeps by the door.
Her love is prickly, remembers
wooly mammoths, survived asteroids.
She gets angry when I suggest orchids.
The landlord wants her out,
wants to build condos, turns up
the heat.

In cups her love grows
for grandchildren to transplant
to faraway years, unfriendly soil,
to ever struggle, never thrive.
Please, may they survive.

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
arbors 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.

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.