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—
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)