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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