Watch Your Head
Coach House Books, 2020
A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
Cover design by Ingrid Paulson
...Watch Your Head does not disappoint. It serves as a warning to heed, a reminder to be thought of often, and a well-thought-out piece of art. Throughout the anthology, readers encounter pieces that provoke and insist, demanding attention, consideration, action, and creativity. Essays and stories and images alike bring about questions and statements on Indigenous rights, white privilege, exploitation of land and people, colonial power structures, place, home, language, and imagination.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
ONLY THE SUN
Who will notice when this leaf is gone?
It is only a leaf,
tiny, trembling, green; tomorrow’s auburn.
No one will know. Only the bird will know.
Who will notice when this love is gone?
It is only a love,
a ghost thing with no edges or shape.
No one will know. Only I will know.
Who will notice when this song is gone?
It is only a song,
one sound set beside another like a pair of shoes.
No one will know. Only we will know.
Who will notice when the sun is gone?
It is only a sun,
a hole of gold burned in an endless sky.
No one will know. Only the dark will know.
I wake up with a protest sign on my chest
in my own bed, no chanters or marchers near.
I wake up to the sound of the ocean rattling
like paper unfolding, the clear voices of unseen birds.
I wake up in a fast-moving vehicle on a highway--
sun choosing the passenger side, the green blurred
trees an anonymous crowd, a hum of uncertainty.
I wake up to the sound of people arguing. I wake up
already peeing into a toilet; the mirror has aged me.
I wake up in an apartment I used to rent
years ago, though the wallpaper has changed
and I can’t be sure I’m not a ghost. Somehow
the same things propel me forward.
I wake up to the small hole a cigarette makes,
a punctuation mark in someone else’s turmoil.
The sandy snake of smoke climbs the wall.
I wake up on a bus between countries
and for a minute I’ve forgotten my own name,
just a dry mouth and a body, a set of eyes.
I wake up to the blind gray face of a mountain;
though I have never gone mountain climbing
I’m wearing the boots for it. I stretch, look around.
It appears I have all the equipment and it’s a new day.
Emily Schultz will publish her newest novel, Little Threats, in fall 2020 with GP Putnam’s Sons. Her novel, The Blondes, released in Canada with Doubleday, in the U.S. with Picador, in France with Editions Alto and Editions Asphalte. Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Kirkus, it recently became a scripted podcast starring Madeline Zima. Her poems have appeared in
Minola Review, rust + moth, Humber Literary Review, and Taddle Creek.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
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