The earth is dying. Hope is eroding, at best. Faith
is sustainable and will persist as long as the last
glacier resists the ice-melt. God was our Plan B.
For when it all became too much. Or we were the
cosmic Plan B. For when it all seemed too little.
All that is broken now, with the wild weather,
with the disappearing creatures, with the
invading seas. We reneged on our deal with
the planet. Defaulted on Plan B. A hungry bird
swoops low towards a pair of yellow-eyed fish.
Changes its mind and settles on a thirsty branch.
Eating the last two fish cannot be the answer. A
strange fox watches from the shadows. Cursing
the wasteland, he waits for the bird to drop.
Today I remember a poetry form called earthhello, that I learnt from Rosemary Nissen-Wade. You can read the many beautiful poems she wrote in that form on her blog. And here’s the link to the one time I made a rough attempt.
But talking of the earth and all that’s happening to it, if you’ve been keeping a keen eye on climate change and all the aspects of the ecological crises, equality, justice and wanton growth that go with it, if you’ve followed COP-26 with interest or amazement, if you’ve looked around you and felt the fingerprints of human excess – in the weather, in the soil, in the disappearance of little creatures, if all of this is translating into urgent, necessary poetry, then consider looking up Earthweal and sharing your thoughts there with other like-minded poets. Brendan, Sherry and others are doing such a great job to keep the focus on what really is the most important conversation we all need to have at this time. So please do take a look, share your work and join the discussion!!
ask her, ask her
the earth already knows
how this story ends
Not even a week old, this year already questions
my blood, my loyalty, the bastard smell of my
poems. Like a feral cat, this year is licking itself on
my porch, asking if I will steal a saucer of milk from
the neighbour whose pet parrot it has just
devoured. Whose fault is the asymmetry of clouds,
of puddles, of rage, when the rain keeps coming
down in neat vertical lines? I ask you if the last
monsoon was any different. But this year is already
wet, see how some months are drowning. The
inferno is discerning only in the depths of hell.
When hellfire reigns on earth, all skin burns the same,
all tongues taste the same, all cries are oblations
poured on the same pyre. I ask you if the last
world was any different. This year is already singed,
see how life is charred and curling at one end.
For earthweal.com – be sure to visit and share your #climateemergency poetry.
In Bangalore, where the fish used to leap
in countless lakes — where I am, where
I walk, was once water — where the future
is, was once water — and it sinks, as surely
as the concrete rises from the reinforced
burden of ten million clamours. In Bangalore,
I cross places off a list, places like Okjökull
(that melted away), Brazil (where the
Amazon burns), Cua Dai (where the sea is
rising over the sand), the Barrier Reef (where
the ocean warms and coral dies), Cocos
island (where plastic washes up by the ton),
the Savannah (where the rhinos used to roam)
— my great grandfather never left his village,
never heard of Washington D.C (where the
climate does not change), he never saw a glacier
or a rainforest, never boarded an aeroplane
or a big ship, but on his bucket list there was
one place a stranger told him about — Bangalore,
glorious queen of towns, with the cool skies and
countless lakes, where the birds sang and
flowers paved the roads, with the jackfruit
groves and the laundered air, where the future
soared and the stars hung low, Bangalore
(where the climate would never change).
The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future” and reads: “In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,”
And we sign up for the tour of the museum
of horrors. Expertly curated, the brochure
invites — the special exhibits are ravaged
war zones, starving children, the burning
taiga, the occupied territories, the eroded
beaches, the nameless prisons, the extinct
species, the endless lines of humans fleeing
one hell for another. We grab our audio
guides and wait to be told what we should
see. How we should see what we think we
see. Leave your belongings at the gate, a
disinterested voice directs, as we stuff the last
of our humanity in a locker and enter, cokes
and burgers clutched to our chests, the water
rising above our ankles, the plastic key card
choking the universe through our lined pockets.
For the midweek prompt at Poets United: ‘Museum’
Water to Water – on Amazon
“The truth is like poetry.
And most people f*&^%#@ hate poetry”
– From the movie, ‘The Big Short’
The truth is a million species are lined up for
The truth is natural ecosystems are breaking
The truth is it the way we consume land and sea is
affecting us all.
The truth is bleached coral.
The truth is fish with plastic in their bellies.
The truth is burning fossil fuels.
The truth is rising seas.
The truth is the worst April cyclone in the Bay of
Bengal in years that killed dozens of people in
The truth is no longer sustainable.
Have you closely examined the delicate contours
of a butterfly wing?
Have you wondered at the Fibonacci patterns of
shells and flowers?
Have you considered the delicate balance of the
Have you woken up in the morning to the sound
of water and birds?
The truth is that nature, left to itself, is poetry.
The truth is most people f*&^%#@ hate poetry.
From the IPBES report on biodiversity and ecosystem services
not one left to bury
no twenty-one gun salute
no flag draped coffin
no grieving kin in black
not even a discordant dirge floating in the
hot summer wind
who would care
who would care for a
tombstone that said:
“martyr in the war between
humans and earth –
bramble cay melomys –
first mammal killed by
human-provoked climate change”
leave a clock there
leave a clock where the
tide can’t reach it, for a while,
the countdown has begun
The bramble cay melomys is reportedly the first mammal to go extinct on account of human-caused climate change events.
For Poets United where the midweek motif is “Biodiversity”
We will become myth. And they will paint us
under the giant wheels of insatiable want, they
will sing of us as thieves who stole from the
bowels of the earth, they will write of us as fools
who burnt our own home, they will carve little
images of us on their big trees as warnings to
their children, we will become metaphors for
depravity, we will be the ones the gods went to
war with, we will be the ones that won and the
ones that lost, the ones that made the hole in the
universe that no one would ever fill — my own
favourite is the scratched outline on a cave wall,
where the vanquished earth is a rancid berry in
the beak of the death bird, tasting of human folly —