Poems about Environmental Degradation (with some optimism at times)
Sometimes a poem is a silent scream across the roaring wind….
I will be adding to this page as I go along. Have quite a few poems in this theme, as you might imagine!)
Rereading this first poem, Problems Greater than the Grey Squirrel, which I wrote a few years ago now, the last line is a little outdated considering the battering that most Atlantic coasts across Europe got this winter.
The second poem, A World Without Dandelions, is a juxtaposition, years later, to the first poem …
The third, Where Would I Stop? I wrote a while back thinking about Palm Oil plantations and the interior of Borneo.
Fourth poem, Global Warming, added 16/3/14…
Problems Greater than the Grey Squirrel
There are greater problems than the grey squirrel
As sika deer spread across the country
Through the ringed and blighted trees:
The zebra mussel is no threat
Against the death of honey bees,
The water will not wash clean
The polar bears’ pollution,
These balmy days and forest burning nightmares
Are not our future – it will be the opposite,
As the wind shifts to our south.
The blind sheep in Argentina could see it coming,
Along with dying coral in the sea.
And we sit still on the beach,
Unseeing that the waves lap ever nearer to our toes.
A World Without Dandelions
Discarded dandelions litter abandoned park benches:
The bouquets and posies gathered for waiting parents
Either absentminded or unappreciative. Yet the gardens
Glow with their golden blooms, bringing me to wonder:
What would we do without them? The daffodils and tulips
Would be stripped and strewn. Perhaps soon, just as we
Will rely on mackerel when the seas no longer hold
Swordfish and sturgeon, (as much as grey squirrels and
Starlings) we will appreciate them after the orchids are gone.
And Where Would I Stop?
I am indignant:
The politicians push the joystick of power with their thumbs –
Under the direction of others, I am sure, we cannot see, nor know their names –
What should I do?
I could write a letter to the press and pick the puppeteers out of their anonymity,
Given that we all have some idea who they are,
Go on strike (like I really should), stand in front of gates and shout
Louder that those already standing?
The urge is getting stronger and the string will, at some point, snap.
But where would I stop?
The price of wheat has increased, the cuts on the country go ever deeper
The pensions we all paid into have petered out and paltry is
The work our government does for us.
Should I stand for office and eliminate the waste when elected?
But boats of poor people still float across dangerous straits,
Drowning scores that would scramble upon our shores
To share in just a little of our misery.
Should I stand on the sand and hold up my hand to the soldiers
Pushing them back?
Workers squeezed into unseen warehouses spend hours they should be sleeping
Squinting under insufficient light while whittling away at some piece of plastic
We will spend trupence on and throw away after very few days,
For the price of enough bread and the pillow upon which
They are sometimes allowed to lay their head.
Should I stop purchasing,
Or petition the presidents of every international enterprise
To pay their subcontracted workers well instead of making enormous profits, and
Push to equalize salaries so that globalization becomes something positive?
The population of an African nation is halved as
The one with the guns does away with the other.
Should I board a boat bringing supplies and smuggle aboard some AKs?
The tribes of there are dying in droves from bombs dropped by a dictator
And the leader of the free world is incapable of lifting a finger, nor
Do we pause to read the paper for pessimism and fear of frustration.
Should I sneak in with the CIA, go rogue and assassinate the blackguard?
An island, third in the world, until fifty years ago an almost unknown,
Unexplored and untouched paradise, is stripped and burnt bare of trees that purify our air,
At a rate of thousands of hectares day, planted with oil palms for profit
While the denizens of the canopy crash to the ashes.
I think I would stop there.
And what would stop me?
The weight of humanity waiting behind the palm trees, ever increasing,
Which will not be halted, by one voice, or a million,
Will still push back a billion,
Until they trip up over their own feet.
Green shoots are growing, not just surviving until thaw:
The freeze has not quite occurred, and we’re gazing at
Azure, unbroken bar by jet trails and blazing glare.
Flies abound: shining diamonds doomed to their
One day of dancing through gleaming spider threads,
As if only for our afternoon enjoyment, sitting in
Descending sun, one of the few things moving –
Even windmills are still, seeming in high summer
Rather than early January…
And we wonder when it will all end. And try
Not to think of where and how.
The following poem is one I posted and am adding to this web page now. I wrote this poem twelve years ago. I didn’t think it was that long ago. But boy, has a lot happened in those ten years. Well, actually, no. Regarding the subject of the poem, sweet F A has happened. Except that the problem has gotten a decade worse, and will take us longer than ten years more to fix-slash-reverse the effects of those ten years.
In light of the Exxon revelations, though, it seems nothing has happened for decades, dozens of years, and our course back to some kind of similar landscape/coastline for the continents is oh so very far away….
The Shallow Harbour of Bangladesh
Standing upon the rise, beard growing icicles in the wind,
Eyes weeping from it and the fields falling frozen before him,
Drifts against dead hedges, reindeer shelter in lees,
Eking out the existence once thriving life with sheep,
When the warm rain came.
Crouching on dry gravel, shaking stones in fist,
Scatters, shaking head at emptiness,
Lizard skitters across pebbles, scavenging scarce parched seeds,
Sun beats upon neck back and all before, years,
Used to draw grains and vines once sustained by winter snow,
And spring showers that sprinkled flowers,
Now storms wash out ravines of dust and dried husks.
A man stands proud upon a prow, poling into treacherously turbid estuary
Drowned mangroves threaten to mire like the lost tiger,
Channel shallows past the Sundarbans, showing signs of past life,
Here and there stilts stick up that once held houses,
Where one would watch the Ganges disgorge slowly,
Switched around to see the sea swallow,
Several names of river back to the border,
Splitting into a harbour a hungry nation awaiting huddled upon the bank,
The man sailing over rice paddies,
Fishing upon his former fields.