Are we to become plain and simple as if we were pioneers? Or disappeared like the multitudes of beautiful Indigenous, worldwide, wiped out?
Daily our hearts break and we feel less like adventurers (or perhaps the greatest adventure of all is to survive the end of the world!), but one of these days there will be nothing left to survive from, for, or about.
Why should we recycle? Why shouldn’t we just buy less junk for a change?
We have been babies. We have been wanting.
We have not understood the trees! Rather than lie under them, rather than exist as graceful as a leaf, we harm. We cut.
Moreover, we waste the scenery, we waste it with nostalgia, we waste it with consumption, we waste our pastures with pollution and rot. Yes. We stockpile weapons and plastics and microbeads and styrofoam in our homes, in our cities, underground — we don’t value blades of grass, or subways, in terms of doing things that would reduce emissions like embrace mass transit if we have to leave our homes at all. We have not paid enough attention to the clouds, to the smoke, to the quality of our air. Do we know what we are missing? No.
We use the clouds for metaphor, for openings, we compare ourselves to the sky, to nature, we exist as fleeting, we exist as disloyal to this earth. It cannot trust us. We have always looked away. We have chased that only which does not support our peace or stability, we cannot keep still. We move on to the next thing, wishing, wanting, anti-Buddhas in our thoughts, even our anxiety is useless in its direction. Navel gazing without connecting the dots between our surroundings and importance of actual preservation. We think about ourselves too much.
Now when I kiss you I think of how much time we have or don’t have left. Humanity! You are in retreat. (How save her?)
St. Anyone, we have no protection, we have no literature, we have no religion, we run low on metaphor and time. There is no one to hear of our legend, it is a pile of trash, it is a garbage dump, it is the fur and skeleton of a starving polar bear surrounded by crushed cans of Coke and dripping with spilled oil. We’ve tried washing it out, but that is just more chemicals, more stains — the poison always soaking through (we are not even distracted by it!) or seeping into the soil, “it’s organic,” no, even in this, the flowers and crops polluted, there is no acre free. We may will it so, we may attempt to provide shelter, a greenhouse, hydroponics, mysterious inventions of science that substitute for food one day.
“Destroy yourself, if you don’t know!” says Frank, “We are destroyed, Frank,” I say. “We do know!”
It is easy to be ignorant; it is easy to appear so. I admire little, after all, we are all trapped, we’ve set it ourselves. This is the final chapter, how could it not be, when we have failed and failed at revolutions and resistance, when we have allowed the same frame to shift decade after decade. We are covered in it.
“It’s ok — science will save us; they won’t let the internet die under water, they won’t let people starve; the won’t let refugees roam the world after climate disaster homeless and exploited. — Silly us! Absolutely they will, absolutely” — You, Me, Whoever is Left, Later.
There is no out of here, we are in it to win it. We could re-emerge, perhaps, defeated, from the wastelands, from the debris, they want to keep us off of their helicopters, out of their bunkers, so maybe we save the soil, maybe we reclaim the land just beneath our feet. It’s only one second to midnight, there’s so much to do. Grab the seeds, touch the soil, cry into the little hole. Plant. Harvest. Hope.
Jenny Justice is a poet mom who longs to bring poetry to life in ways that spark empathy, connection, joy, and feeling. She loves writing love poems, climate change awareness poems, poems for kids, and of course, poems about poetry and poets. You can follow her on Medium and at Jenny Justice, Writer and support her poetry at Justice Poetic. You can also support her on Patreon and sign up for her poem a week newsletter here — thank you!
Frank’s Poem, here:
Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara
Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were French? Each time my heart is broken it…
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