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 —