Earth Day Emergency by George Elliott Clarke

On Friday, April 21st, 2017 in Events, Publications

Earth Day Emergency

Earth Day should be Thanksgiving, not Mother

Earth’s Good Friday, when Extinction’s spectre—

Those ghosts of the Endangered or those Dead

Creatures haunt us—souls polluted by lead,

Mercury, arsenic, acids, and seeds

“Frankensteined” genetically. Live meat bleeds

As it conveyor-belts from plains to plates—

Shrink-wrapped, sporting “Best Before”-stamp, stale dates—

While dolphins and whales, having gulped down our

Plastic garbage and water bottles, lour,

Thrash, and beach themselves, their bellies starving,

And tides turn as red as blood spilled, carving

And serving mad cows or sick swine, all ill

From ingesting strange flesh and/or feces,

Contracted in ponds, scum-green with algaes.

Earth Day should be Eden Revival Day,

Not a “Mayday! Mayday!” Emergency,

When the Apocalypse sounds factual—

Angels strike, and precious seem wine and oil,

And the seas belch up blood, and all fish die,

And sun scorches like fire, so wetlands dry,

And locusts chew roots, leaves, fruits, and Famine

Eats every human down to skeleton,

And skies shine with poison Radiation

Or go dark with choking smog. No nation

Is immune from terra firma that shakes!

One must ask: Does fracking trigger earthquakes?

Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu,

And other pestilential plagues renew,

Plus West Nile Virus, and other disease—

Infections without treatment, deaths sans cease.

Lethal’s now the baffling kiss of sunlight—

Intricately broken down is skin, white

With pus, putrid with boils, palpably raw,

While tornadoes whirl and swirl, clout and claw,

Oceans go soapy as a laundromat,

Foaming; skyscrapers totter; homes go splat;

A tsunami of trash washes away

Hospitals, leaving unsanitary

Cadavers. Each toxic anatomy—

In obscene inundation—heaps awry.

Oil spills, clear-cut forests, firestorms, sink-holes

Swallowing suburbs whole, are routine tolls

Now, for “Progress.” Condemned seas and damned winds,

Waste lands, Rust Belts, vast contaminations,

Thorns and rubbish, smashed glass, cracked ceramics,

Charred remains, scorched-earth, war-zone Economics,

Bomb-blast disasters ever more drastic,

Atomic threats, arms races elastic,

Ever expanding, is just a short list

Of unpalatable residues unjust,

The catastrophes now making us sick—

Unsustainable—and uneconomic.

Is Capital the acceptable

Villain, or are our choices culpable?

If Mother Earth now faces assassins,

Who are the culprits if not we humans?

This Earth Day demands deliberate turns

Back to Nature: Balance: What each child learns.

George Elliott Clarke

Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)

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  • Susan Hammond

    Wow. Mr. Clarke has captured it all, and so powerfully.

  • John Gower

    Grim, powerful, real. And yet, for all that we’ve done to her, she’s still so beautiful and abundant. A wonder.

  • Gordon Cornwall

    Rousing stuff! Baudelaire meets Heart of Darkness.

  • Elizabeth

    Yes indeed, Mr Clarke has captured it all – EXCEPT the attention of all the unconverted. It’s not for Governments to decree what shall be done, it’s for each and every earthling to heed the warnings and ACT.

    • Carol de la Haye

      Exactly! Thanks for this — perfect.

  • KootenayCoyote

    Good exposure, great poem.

  • Mary Rose Cowan

    Thank you for requesting a poem for Mother Earth, and for us humans of her, Ms. May and Mr. Clarke for responding so passionately. It is a cry from the heart and it reverberates in the oceans of my heart tonight.
    Whether we are on the cusp of extinction or whether we will be able to heal enough to stay on earth a while longer, this poem calls upon us little “earthlings” to wake up, grow up and stand up for being responsible for the utter misery we have created on earth.
    It begs us to pause and reflect, question and consider, lament, and then dig deep for the resolve to make hard choices, and take courage from making the right choices, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. It’s so clear how dire our circumstances on earth. For those humans with the capacity, we must seek ways to link arms as Ms. May says, and step forward with our bodies as well as our hearts and and souls, again and again and again. We are not meant to do this work alone. We are meant to do it together. It is our human right, our human legacy and responsibility to always fight to do so. I believe we can do this. No matter who we are, or think we are, we can work together to end this suffering.

  • greatwhitebear

    We are doing horrible things to our environment, oceans and wildlife. When you have a Vicious no compassion President of the USA and one just like him in BC by the name of Christy Clark it makes you wonder if there is hope. When a President changes legislation so that gun toting republicans can shoot and kill mother bears and their cubs in their dens, and the same with wolf cubs, and the one in BC that allows Trophy Hunting of Grizzlies and the building of dams that is so environmentally unsafe, what has this world come to. These are the people who were voted into office to do the right thing!! No compassion for our wildlife, no concern for our land our water, the people.

  • bcivilwithcivilgovernments

    Great Job George!
    I have a much shorter poem with similar sentiments “2B or not 2B”
    Next time we meet!

    • W.Wilkins

      And the shortest poem by the great Mohammad Ali:

  • W.Wilkins

    Ahhhhhhh . . . ouch! Three questions raised, and to respond to one question by paraphrasing Mitch Hedburg: Yes, our choices were culpable, they still are, but they were too.

  • Carol Clegg

    This poem should be read by the Speaker at the next day’s sitting of the Commons.

    • Susan Weaver

      Every day it should be read !!!

  • Jan McQuay

    “Mother Earth now faces assassins” could be a rallying cry.

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