today, in the united states, we celebrate
“black friday,” so called b/c so many folks
buy so much stuff that it puts businesses
“in the black” on their balance sheets.
it opens the season of mammonmas,
when we celebrate our principal deity,
Consumption. we avoided the explosion of
the bomb cyclone farther north, but
it is raining, so be careful
driving yr s.u.v., lest you become a
human sacrifice (have you ever noticed
most people driving s.u.v.’s don’t know
how to drive their s.u.v.’s?) anyway,
the hi was 14 degrees below the norm
yesterday, the lo, 2 degrees above;
rain in nov., 0.55” / norm, 2.05”
yr to date: 45.61” / norm, 36.95”
the new normal = no normal, no pattern
in e. africa, the new normal = devastation,
apparently: 2 yrs worth of rain hammers
djibouti in one day (let that sink in . . .)
rain in the horn of africa this year =
300% above normal; death toll in kenya
rises to 120 (60 last weekend) in slides
& floods, 18,000 people displaced;
5,000 in 2 villages cut off for days;
“life here is terrible because we don’t
have money, because if someone had
their money in the house
it was all swept away by the floods”;
local dr. wonders what’s next:
“is it wounds, is it children who are coming
up with pneumonia, is it diarrheal illnesses”
meanwhile, farther south, drought:
2/3 of crops fail in botswana, +
40,000 cattle die: “the goats died,
as well as the cattle, as you can see
the carcasses all over”; & the cattle
compete for what little water there is
w/hippos and elephants (100s of whom
have died, too); so check in:
is this making you angry, or sad? have you
already ceased to read?;
in zimbabwe, “even if a person’s farm
was not damaged by the cyclone in march,
the drought makes it very hard for them
to feed their families,” sez the village elder.
“most people’s only sources of income
are their vegetable gardens and livestock,
and without water both will die.” & if
they survive, still no money left for
medicine or school or
on the yankton sioux rez in s. dakota,
groundwater seeps into houses & blooms
of mold keep bursting forth, no matter
how much bleach you use: “it’s ruined
all our stuff, everything stinks, my eyes hurt,
we’ve all been sick, it can’t be legal
to leave us living like this”; cyclone after
cyclone, drying lake now flooding lake, outlet
underwater, sewage plant neared collapse;
“the climate is changing, it’s already snowing in
montana, and if we have another wet winter &
spring, there will be devastation, we’ll have to
be evacuated,” sez the tribal official;
& meanwhile, those of us who are hi & dry & live,
w/o a putrid smell in our homes making it
hard to breathe, are walking off our big
thanksgiving dinners at the mall, ignoring
as much as we can, enjoying our private lives
at the moment, imagining & extrapolating a
similar tomorrow; & when the s.h.t.f. & w.t.f.
moments arrive, we’ll all raise our voices as one
“how come nobody did nothin?”
[PS – Don’t forget – 1 week from today (Dec. 6) – the next climate strike. Don’t work, don’t go to class, ideally take a bus or bike to protests, & don’t buy more stuff.]
As an example of parrēsia, Michel Foucault quotes the 5th/6th c. BCE rhetor Isocrates as telling the Athenians, “you have formed the habit of driving all orators from the platform except those who support your desires”: in other words, you’ll watch Fox or MSNBC, but not both. Isocrates here is using parrēsia to tell the people they’re suppressing parrēsia. He goes on to declare that “I know that it is hazardous to oppose your views and that, although this is a free government, there exists no freedom of speech [parrēsia] except that which is enjoyed in this Assembly by the most reckless orators, who care nothing for your welfare, and in the theater by the comic poets.” So, demagogues and satirists, in other words. The former are not interested in the health of the state. The writers, for their part, may or may not be. The parrhesiast, as Foucault points out, plays a critical or pedagogical role. Certainly satire can fit that bill. But if people can laugh it off, is there any risk to the writer? It’s not sho-nuff parrēsia unless there’s a chance you’re going to piss people off. The mob, by contrast, will listen to the comic poets because they cloak their parrēsia in laughter. Or, as George Bernard Shaw supposedly said, “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you.” But the parrhesiast is willing to risk death, feels they have a moral duty to tell people and tell ‘em straight.
The past couple of years has seen a barrage of (unfunny) publications detailing the worst-case scenarios from climate change, as well as the best-case scenarios, which are themselves not very good. David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth is perhaps the most parrhesiastic, with last year’s IPCC report not far behind. Concern was expressed in some quarters that such doom-and-gloom predictions would stifle people’s motivation to militate for mitigation – that it would make us despair, in other words. “Human beings cannot bear very much reality,” as the poet says, so let ‘em down easy like. Give them 100 simple things they can do to save the earth: don’t tell them they’ll have to stop flying, have to take the bus (!), or have to chain themselves to a senator’s office door. Definitely don’t tell them that the effects of the last 30-year’s-worth of CO2 emissions is “baked in” and will lead to more frequent and more intense storms, droughts, and floods, even if we cut emissions to 0 tomorrow. In response, those of a more parrehesiastic bent faulted scientists for soft-pedalling their results via understating the implications or wrapping them in endless qualifications and circumlocutions – and, sure enough, it seems like every time I turn around, the scientists are saying things are worse than their last study or report let on.
So: are you the kind of person (and writer) who says, “Everything is going to work out,” or the kind who says, “Give it to me straight, Doc” - ? Most people are the former: they have no framework, no philosophy or outlook, that will allow them to absorb the facts and still function normally. In fact, most people these days only want to hear the “truth” of what they already believe to be true (psychologists call this “confirmation bias”). By contrast, Foucault claims, “The parrhesiast . . . faces power, he opposes the majority, or public opinion . . . He acts not as an integrating agent but as s disintegrating factor or agent.” Or, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword,” as one famous parrhesiast once said.
Parrēsia is only meaningful in the context of virtue ethics. It’s not a utilitarian approach. But there’s the conundrum: do you tell people the unvarnished truth, even if nobody listens, or do you tell them things they’re willing to hear (i.e., fib) and get them to do things they’re willing to do, even if it doesn’t do a damn bit of good in the long run?
Parrēsia is, at root, a spiritual practice. It is a true friend who will tell you the truth about yourself. And only a person who is truly bent on improving their character will seek out that truth. Foucault writes that when “the soul seeks a touchstone that will enable it to know the state of its health, that is to say the truth of its opinions,” it is hungering for parrēsia.
This last part is, to my mind, the most important. You can’t control how people will respond to what you say or write – indeed, you can’t know how they will respond – or if they will at all. Did Wallace-Wells really think his dour book would land on the NYT bestseller list? But the best-selling, prize-winning novelist or poet often has to flatter agents, publishers, critics, colleagues, in order to get their work wider circulation. They have to give the public what it wants – and who wants prophecies of doom? Seen in this light, seeking a wider audience starts to seem like selling your soul for 30 pieces of silver – or your legacy for a mess of pottage. Parrhesiastic writers, by contrast, gain fame, if they do, usually after they are dead. Which may be sooner rather than later, the way things are going. And that’s the truth Ruth.
dear mother gaia,
you’ve been doing a lot of smiting
lately, but you haven’t us, which
we appreciate – esp. since we’ve been,
well, perturbing. i mean those
of us in the global north, esp. the u.s.,
where we each consume & excrete as
much as a good-sized chinese village;
& esp. n.e. kansas, where i live, where we
thank you for sparing us the “historic,
unprecedented” storm system hitting
the west – the one battering the coast
with 70 mph gusts & massive rains, &
the mountains w/blizzards & ft. of snow
(tho it’s true i-70 is closed at goodland,
but that’s on the other side of the state);
we thank you for not visiting
wildfire upon us, as you have in okla.,
where 26 blazes blaze and 15k lost power
(& 17k in st. louis); i personally thank you
for inspiring us to stay home this
holiday weekend & not become stranded
in the shut-down denver airport;
we’re super grateful we aren’t among
the 39 people killed by floods &
mudslides in kinshasha yesterday, that
we’re not the woman wailing &
clapping her hands & crying “my son,
my son” as they carted off his body;
or the 65 dead from flooding in kenya,
where “no one can sleep
in their homes for now because
we don’t know when the next
land slide will occur”; or for that matter,
any of the other places catastrophic
floods are happening: djibouti, england,
greece, italy, france;
we’re really, really grateful we aren’t
we’re not indigenous people, who’ve
born the brunt of climate change (&
of its forebears, industrialization &
imperialism, who appreciate their
& we thank you that we weren’t born
koala bears; that we don’t live
in the murray-darling basin & aren’t
running out of water as summer begins;
that we haven’t been sucking in
the smoky air of sydney, where now trees
are down & 29k residents lack electricity
after yesterday’s storm; in fact, we give
thanks we aren’t anywhere near
australia, right about now;
we thank you that we can cram our maws
with flesh of fowl, our pie-holes w/pie, b/c
we’re not among
the 500 XR protesters on hunger strike
this thanksgiving holiday, not to mention
the 100’s of millions facing starvation in
the global south b/c our vomiting
megatons of co2 out of our coal plants
& s.u.v.’s screwed up yr normal functioning;
we’re thankful that
our governments are not impinging
on our liberty to drive whatever
we want wherever we want, to
grandmother’s house we go;
why, we’re so blessed, here in
the eunited states, that half of us
don’t believe climate change will
affect us or our families. thank you
for helping us believe in the future!
& thanks for all the stuff! we’ll
save you a plate.
More specifically, as a writer, should you acknowledge the disturbing realities of climate change in your work? Even if it turns people off or freaks people out?
When my little poetry book, Of Some Sky, was published, I didn’t realize how allergic people are to thinking about climate change. I mean, it’s not like I was saying anything half-awake people didn’t already know, and I was even having a little fun with it. But boy did they not want to read about it! The response was something like: This book will make you want to slit your wrists . . . but there’s some decent laugh lines.
Well, OK. But it raises a bigger issue for writers: whether to say what is true about the topics we think are most important or, in contrast, to say only what is palatable about topics people most want to read about. It would be too easy to turn that into a purely aesthetic issue – of “true art” vs. “pandering to the mob,” etc. Rather, I think it has to do with ethics and character.
Part of the question hinges on the relation of writing and reading to the rest of life. If you’re spending all your time “making a difference” by writing lovely nature poetry that never directly addresses the ongoing end of nature, are you any nobler than someone who is cranking out cheesy bestsellers to pay the bills – and going and getting arrested with XR on the weekends?
But the issue of what you’re writing about and how you are doing so is important, too. Nature writing can be just as escapist as mediocre fantasy fiction. Neither the writer of bestselling thrillers nor the nature poet who avoids the topic of climate collapse is talking about the elephant in the room (before it goes extinct, anyway). Maybe they genuinely don’t feel anxious about their or their family’s fate; or maybe they suppress their awareness and their fear of what’s happening. But just because you aren’t lying doesn’t mean you’re telling the truth.
The influential French philosopher Michel Foucault spent the last years of his life studying this issue, by focusing on the concept of parrēsia. This Greek term is a compound word: pan (everything) + eirein (to say, to speak) = say everything. That is, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But it's a bit more complicated than that.
Parrēsia took on a central role in Classical Greece. Originally it meant permission to tell the truth, as granted by a master or a king to a servant or subject, with the promise to refrain from removing the truth-teller’s head (the “kill the messenger” phenomenon was a real thing, back in the day). Later, parrēsia was seen as a characteristic of the free person – the nobility or, in more democratic times, the citizen. The Cynic philosophers used parrēsia by lecturing any unfortunate bystander within earshot about the folly of their ways (the precursor of “call-out culture”?) – perhaps one reason there are not many Cynic philosophers around anymore. With the development of Athenian democracy, it came to mean the right and duty of the citizen to speak up – to say what was on his (his) mind for the health of the state, regardless of how people might feel about it. Consequently, the opposite of parrēsia is flattery – whether it takes the form of kissing up to a monarch or playing to the crowd. It is usually used in relation to speech, but could easily apply to writing, as well.
So, there are a couple of characteristics of parrēsia that follow from this, according to Foucault. The first, is “breaking with or as disregarding the traditional forms of rhetoric and writing. Parrēsia is an action, it is such that it acts, that it allows discourse to act directly on souls . . . .” That is, the point is to hit people in the gut, not to tickle their ears – the goal is the unvarnished truth (frankness), instead of artfulness. Secondly, “somebody is said to use parrēsia, and deserves to be considered as a parrhesiast, if and only if there is a risk, there is a danger for him in telling the truth.” Consequently, “In a political debate, if an orator takes the risk of losing his popularity because his opinion is contrary to the majority’s opinion, he uses parrēsia. So, as you see, parrēsia is linked to danger, it is linked to courage. It is the courage of telling the truth in spite of its danger” (43).
T.B.C. . . .
“scary & sad” sez the sea-ice researcher –
meaning, i take it, scary for us, sad for
the polar bears & seals & all. but here’s
a prize for the last poem on the face
of the earth. entry fee 35 usd –
it’s yr last chance, after all. in
other news: the new climate migrants may be
people from the arctic: you can’t be sure
you won’t fall through the ice anymore
if you walk on it; houses shift off moorings
as permafrost melts – you can’t store food
in your cellar nowadays; & the unthinkable:
no “christmas in ice” ice sculpture park in
north pole, alaska – not enough ice;
“is it caused by climate change? no,"
sez the arctic climate scientist; “is this
another one of a series of warm winters in
alaska that are part of our changing climate?
you bet." . . . ok . . . so . . .
changes in weather cannot be attributed to
climate change, even though the weather is
part of the climate, which is changing. . . . so,
. . . explain that again?
in the meantime, here is a roster of
some things that cannot definitively be said
to have climate change as their proximate
80 wildfires now in new south wales,
50 uncontained; thunderstorms
brought rain (good) but also
lightening (bad), igniting more land;
worst air pollution ever (not to mention
greenhouse offgassing, an added extra)
d.r. congo floods “claim dozens of lives”;
180k people in need of humanitarian aid;
half of bedroughted zimbabweans dependent
on aid; recent heavy rains welcome in
e. africa, but not the 60 deaths in kenya
from mudslides . . .
elsewhere, in our not-exactly-caused-by-
& it’s official: highest acqua alta month
ever in venice: 4.26’ in st. mark’s square;
water up to mid-thigh in the streets;
80% of city underwater; the p.m. sez
“it hurts to see the city so damaged, its
artistic heritage so compromised...”
(sad and scary); this after a
record-hot summer in italy;
& a big chunk of savona-turin motor-
way collapses under landslides;
gov. of liguria tells everyone to stay inside;
now the storm is playing hell w/greece;
& as 4 more people in s.w. france
die of flooding, the govt. issues guidelines
to keep people safe: bug-out bags,
shut off electric & gas, move to
an upper storey with the stuff you
will need, don’t drive into under-
ground tunnels, don’t drink the water,
check house for foundation damage,
put pet bodies in plastic bags,
contact yr insurance agent quickly;
for the poem is melting; the poetry book
is drowning or being drowned; the poem
burned up with all the other garbage;
if you have poetry in your household, be
ready on short notice to take it to
a place where it will be OK, its
timelessness not subject to time
& tide, its spiritual loftiness
only safe on the
There's been a lot of talk lately about "societal collapse" due to climate chaos (well, golly, including on this blog!). This Vice article, "The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun," by Nafeez Ahmed, is maybe the best-researched, most thoughtful article I've read on the possible social and economic effects of climate disaster. Well worth a look.
One of the founders of the Dark Mountain literary group, Paul Kingsnorth, would write, three years after the publication of the “Uncivilisation" manifesto, of the value of “building refuges” from the social breakdown currently transpiring: “Can you think, or act, like the librarian of a monastery through the Dark Ages, guarding the old books as empires rise and fall outside?” Can you, that is, preserve civilization?
I believe it was Terry Eagleton who once noted that it is always dangerous to regard oneself as part of a remnant community. Nonetheless, there is something attractive in this notion – whether it’s monks on Iona or the human books of Fahrenheit 451 – of preserving what you believe is worth preserving of “civilization” (if anything is). And why not? Crows cache shiny objects; people (some people) cache books. Whether or not that will be possible indefinitely is questionable. But like Kingsnorth, I guess I do believe that there are some stories and songs, even some writing -- esp. writing that went against the grain of the times -- that I’d like the future to have, if possible. Including the Dark Mountain manifesto.
Which raises a question: does one’s ethical responsibility to the land and to non-human beings preclude an ethical responsibility toward members of one’s own species? Indeed, do both make an equal ethical claim on our thoughts and actions – by the same token? Gaia does not play favorites, as we are learning, to our horror. It seems to me that retreating to the foothills is neither ethical nor prudent. It’s imprudent in that, if any bearable civilization or culture is to emerge on the other end of this mess (if there is one), it will have to be the result of people’s coming together, rather than seeking to put as much distance between themselves as possible. The American myth of the frontiersman or the romanticized homesteader is extremely dangerous at the present day, I think. And we must remember: a lot of frontiersmen and homesteaders died young – from violence, disease, starvation, exposure, etc. As far as I can tell, the only thing that’s fended off those ills, historically, has been humans working together.
Likewise, the climate crisis. Even if I’m rich, will I really be better off shutting myself up in a luxury retrofitted missile silo, or even a survivalist compound with a few others, than I would be toughing it out with the people in my town? If there is any hope of mitigating climate change, it will only be via mass disruptive intervention by a large percentage of all the people in the world, and that very very soon. Even if you think such a scenario unlikely (as I have to say I do), preparation for the worst effects of climate change (for all but the 1%) will necessitate government & community mobilization to adapt to more frequent and intense storms and droughts, shortages of water and food, mass migration, etc. And I’m not sure where else literature or orature makes any sense but in relation to other human beings, at least to oneself, regardless of the circumstances. We can’t run away from our nature, any more than we can run away to “nature.”
Now, I have to give the Dark Mountaineers credit for at least trying to think through the role of literature in a world where “civilisation” is fraying, if not unraveling. Indeed, they deserve a place in literary history for that effort. I can’t say the same about most authors in the English-speaking world, alas. Would that more poets were actually writing about the climate emergency per se.
Dark Mountain just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and it may be things are changing, for them. Things are certainly changing for England: vide the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in the center of London. Dark Mountaineer Charlotte Du Cann recently wrote a NYT op-ed about that movement and how it seems to be affecting the “narrative” around climate change. I am inclined to agree with everything she says therein. So maybe the poetics of “fuck-it-all-I’m-getting-out-of-here” is giving way to something a bit more engaged with human culture more generally – including, I hope, literary innovations on a scale to match that of the climate crisis itself. If we keep using words the way we’ve always been used to using them, we should not be surprised if we end up with the world we’ve always been used to living in – only much much more so. And that eventuality will bode very badly for homo sapiens – the only one of the various human species, it should be noted, that has not yet become extinct.
– so, how does all this stuff make you feel?
– feel? well, lousy, i guess. hopeless, often.
i mean, govt and industry acts like
it’s 20 years ago: we don’t have 12 yrs
to “save the earth” – some reporter
made that up – the earth – meaning
the holocene – is already
a thing of the past, already dis-
integrating all around us. like
australia: heat in the 90s; 60 mph winds,
scores of fires in the populous east;
100 schools closed in s. of country;
hazardous air quality in sydney:
"it smelt like our house was on fire.”
& maybe it is
& duststorms in victoria state:
“the sky had turned this dark, thick orange.
i’ve been here 10 yrs and never experienced
anything like this. we used to have a dust storm
a year, this is now a weekly basis. at its worst
i couldn’t see across the road. this time the heat,
40c, coupled with the dust just made it unlivable.
you couldn’t go outside.”
like the fact that it’s still raining in italy,
venice sinking beneath the waterline;
& still breaking heat records in maui;
warmest yr ever, on alaska north slope;
like crisis-level food insecurity still
for 11 m in mozambique, zimbabwe, s. africa –
storms & drought both –
parents unable to feed children,
farmers slaughtering animals prematurely, &
water in second-biggest city in zimbabwe
cut off 96 hrs/wk
– so what is to be done?
– it’s pretty clear the big shots
won’t do what needs to be done – they’re
making money off the way things are;
tho new report shld be noted: – 3% off
world g.d.p. by 2050 due to climate chaos.
somebody at least needs to write it down,
to keep up a memorial. tho we could
harden our coastlines, erect barriers,
increase storm sewer capacity (such things
should never be in a poem), could build
emergency housing, storm shelters, cooling
stations, permaculture, stockpile food,
abandon power sources requiring h2o,
& if things get bad enough,
we could all just go
on living, together,
Poet Charles Olson, last Rector of Black Mountain College
Robinson Jeffers had some notoriety in the 1920s and 30s, but his star declined after World War II. As other, younger poets rose to prominence, he was largely ignored by readers to the east, north, and south of Carmel. He did not become embittered: he already was (we don’t know what the hawks thought about it). Likewise, in the Dark Mountain manifesto, there is more than a whiff of sour grapes towards those “literary lions” writing “from the self-absorbed and self-congratulatory metropolitan centres of civilisation . . . .” The manifestors dismiss “mainstream art in the west” as being “about shock; about busting taboos, about Getting Noticed,” resulting in our “ironic, exhausted, post-everything times . . . .”* So it’s not surprising that they would embrace writers who, in 2009, looked thoroughly conventional – even retro – on this side of the Atlantic. The Dark Mountaineers’ version of literature, like the Romantics, is mimetic: it is about representing the more-than-human world as a subject apart from it. And ultimately, it’s about conveying ideas. And it’s hard to think of anything more conventionally human or civilized than that. And in art, quite conservative.
They apparently do not, as that passé shocker William Carlos Williams once put it, regard the poem as “an addition to nature” (emphasis added). They do not cite (and may not know) the work being done, also in North America, by poets and critics working in the field of “ecopoetics,” who are trying to think of writing itself as a material phenomenon. The spider web is not a metaphor for them, it is a work; the decoration of the bowerbird’s bower, like the poem, a physical artifact produced by an organism (often for the same goal). Writing happens using graphite, calcium carbonate, or various natural or petrochemical inks on a receptive physical medium. Ecopoetics rejects the post-Romantic notion of the poem as disembodied conduit for the transmission of emotions.
Rather than looking to Jeffers’ “dark mountain” for inspiration, they look to Black Mountain – that is, the loosely-identified group of poets who taught at that experimental school in North Carolina in the 1950s or were influenced by those who did. Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Paul Blackburn, Hilda Morley, Larry Eigner: all of these writers felt and foregrounded the material reality of writing as marks on a piece of paper combined with the white space of the page; or as breath expelled from the lungs and shaped by the vocal chords – a material reality that could grow according to its own internal workings, as much or more than by ideas. Poetry may or may not be about “nature,” but it is always part of the ecosystem, a specimen. Black Mountain poets were acutely aware of the edges of poetic lines, the meaning of white space (and geographical space), the movement of the eye, the length of the breath, the physical appearance of the poem as visual composition. In other words, a key tendency in Black Mountain poetics is the notion of writing as material and language as physical – biological activities that are coterminous with the more-than-human world, rather than simply referring to it.**
The last section of “Uncivilisation” is subtitled “To the Foothills!” and opens with an epigraph by (wait for it) . . . William Wordsworth: “One impulse from a vernal wood / May teach you more of man, / Of moral evil and of good, / Than all the sages can” (from “The Tables Turned”). Poetry and nature as teaching about morality and human nature: this attitude does not bode well as a way to unhumanize our views, even a little. The Uncivilizers have no patience with the political organizers toiling in the cities: “politics is a human confection, complicit in ecocide and decaying from within.” So, they really do mean to go “out into the wilderness” to “gain perspective.” Indeed, it may be easier to move away from humanism by moving away from humans – or to be a curmudgeon living in a writers’ colony near hiking trails, like Jeffers. The big difference: Big Sur didn’t burn as often, back then. Jeffers didn’t have to worry about climate chaos impinging on his splendid isolation.
* Jeffers, it should be noted, shocked readers initially by the racy content and unconventional form of his earlier work – and his later work is dripping with W-50-weight irony.
** Eigner not least, given his cerebral palsy and difficulty typing and speaking. He was very aware of his page as an extension of his actual window.
went out to the lake this weekend
& down to the beach (not to swim),
but the beach did not appear:
steps led down
into & under
water – water
still hi still
threatens to flood in spring;
& now the adjutant general of
the kansas national guard informs us
excess water hasn’t evap’d; & look for
more snow & rain & probably floods;
maybe another $15 m in damage to
infrastructure? maybe another 1.3 b
gallons of sewage flowing into the kaw,
source of water for cities up
and down it; the guard still trucking in
40k gal daily to one town near here;
“it’s not just that, ‘oh, it’s going to be
wetter, or it’s going to be dryer.’ but
it’s that the rain that does arrive
is going to be arriving at different times
in the year and at different intensities,”
sez the senior policy analyst, & he’s
already right. moreover,
kansas water office sez: 4 eastern ks.
reservoirs are 40% silt & sediment:
that’s 40% less water to pump,
40% less room for stormwater; & don’t
get me started on what flooding does
to toxic waste sites . . .
but hey you could be in venice
hit by a record 3rd king tide in a week;
st. mark’s sq. = st. mark’s lake =
closed to public; elsewhere in italy
swollen rivers, avalanches already;
ditto austria, w/snow, to boot;
sheffield in u.k.: wettest autumn ever;
worcestershire, gloucestershire, midlands,
york – flooding all around
farmers in canada blow-dry
waterlogged crops; soybeans in india
ruined by monsoons, winter planting
while in nigeria,
flooding displaces 19k people:
“stranded populations are running
short of food and those who can afford it
are paying high sums to be transported to
the other areas, putting their lives at risk
crossing the river or running for safety”
(you’ll pay high sums, too,
if you’ll be able to afford it, too)
anchorage gets record for snow
& rain – & warmth, all on saturday;
record-breaking heat in hawai’i;
heatwave across australia &
bushfires continue to burn
(smoky old sydney); meanwhile,
$40 m hail damage on sunshine coast;
still a drought in southern africa;
waters still hi in somalia & talk of
famine, 370k homeless
maybe walk into the water
maybe walk into the drink
maybe wash away all my sins
maybe just stand at the brink
I'm a writer & teacher in Lawrence, Kansas who actually believes the scientists. I wrote a book of poems called Of Some Sky that seems to have something to do with all this.