These men who talk about war
like they know how to kill people
like they've learned how to kill people
in the millions
Yeahhhh baby, jets, bombs, ships, drones
we got it
you got oil
we want it
you got lithium
we want it
our people are going green
We need lithium
get those fuckin Indians out of the city
We don't need to hear that mother earth shit
unless Johnny Depp says it
cause he smells nice
David Groulx is the author of 11 books of poetry. From Turtle Island to Gaza (Athabasca University Press) is his most recent.
"This year, for or the first time in memory,
the monarch butterflies didn’t come . . . Last year’s low
of 60 million seems great compared with the fewer
than three million that have shown up so far." / NY Times, Nov. 22, 2013
terrific millionfold monarch migration
in the forest of my youth in the filtered light
of a morning I did not know was morning
amidst populations I did not know would instruct me
sexualized in the coupling force beyond mammal selection
an electrical transmission below the level of sunlight
filtered through towers of living monarch forests
spinning cathedral glass exploded from axis
a diagram of surfaces, light refracted
into flocks of autonomous magnetic sensors
spinning away and toward meridional centers
hundreds of millions of representations
each caught in the eco-swirl of its own sexual
metabolic foraging exploratory hungers
the task is not to become cinematic
for the screen here is exploded the data streams
points of light humans waving their cells
network engines humming data servers
grounding the flock in some undisclosed location
each click an ear of corn burning off the potential
in massed hives of inequality the city humming
with its "own" light that is not its own
burning out the fields the wilderness of flowering
medicinal intelligences shrinking the margin
of attainability the growth gross surplus punishes
straggling monarchs only seem weak until they are
collapse of the network no more visible than its rise
in the shadow of swarms who crowd source explore
cycling inward but what do we counter
the task is not to become elegiac
yet to remember clearly when there was light
brought by other intelligences when the economic
relations were already fucked nothing primary
to experience but the orientation of the objects
in this field of ontological relations massed evidence
available to travelers catching the updraft
of laboring hungering heat at colonial borders a boy
could still hound me into those woods wanting
a bit of change that wasn't in my pocket I could
still be left alone with the flaming alien masses
finally to catch a ride atop a load of resinous timber
back of a truck loaded with logger exhaustion
in the slow economic violence not yet the terror of cartels
the task is to breathe in as well as out
catching a bit of monarch fire in a gentle swarm
in a Clear Creek Canyon above the Colorado
below the towers of Zoroaster Temple, in the early light
of a love whose extinction seemed impossible
impossible as the solitary roving fluttering monarchs
each minding its own tenuous relation minding me
to care for the buried threads of now to then
the spots of time and spaces stitched by migratory
desires, memory, all will power the free-fall struggles
down and up economical topographies of relation
yet actual bodies blinking across the fossil landscape
migratory swarming intelligences only dimly aware
of their own orogenic and plate tectonic powers
the task is to honor the contact and the fire
not the program, to be methodical in action
doing our thing, basking in microclimates, longing
for the heart of the heat of the sun of the swarm
massed in genetic code, memories stored as images
impulses, without which the sprayers roll in silence
across fields of shining corn bundled and sheathed
in cash-clad towers only seeming to be seeds
the deadly vertical updraft of minerals and nutrients
exhausting the soil in row after row of green
desire unmixed by memory, an engineer's paradise
in name only, behind every drone a man
and paymaster, behind every monarch a million
who have always been relation the wing-clad
boughs only seeming to be leaves but who notices
when a network goes offline a constellation
extinguished in the penumbra of failing telescopes
Founder and editor of the influential journal ecopoetics, Jonathan Skinner is the author of Political Cactus Poems (2005), Warblers (2010), Birds of Tifft (2011), and Chip Calls (2014), and his essays have been anthologized widely. He teaches at the University of Warwick.
I ought to start with someone else's gain,
step outside myself, put on the red
and distant visor, be the other queen.
Remember what is still to come. Forget.
An ocean, say, with pebbles full of eyes –
or what were once the outer skins of sight –
how beautiful they are, intact and white
against the deadened grey, intense cerise.
Or maybe sand instead; the other side
of memory. A hundred million minds
A sparrow hops across snow.
A dog barks.
The wishbone though.
Intact and delicate
like a canoe slicing
through the nothingness
that should have been
a heartbeat. Strength
so often gets overlooked
in the pink hour of
dried blood. And so we miss
the open mouth of determination,
the way a foot is lifted not
towards or away from
Ayesha Chatterjee is the author of two poetry collections, The Clarity of Distance, and Bottles and Bones. Her work has appeared in journals across the world and been translated into French and Slovene. Chatterjee is past president of the League of Canadian Poets and chair of the League’s Feminist Caucus. She is poetry advisor for Exile magazine.
There is one road in and out –
mountain to sea and back again.
We take it while we still can,
trail the steady line of traffic
climbing towards a choked sky.
Streams only travel in one direction
or dry up in heatwaves such as this.
The temperatures are still rising.
Last night, as the children slept,
we watched light streak across the sky
illuminating our shack on the hill –
the back steps built close
to jagged shrubs and grass.
This morning we packed everything
and left, shoved pink flip-flops
and beach-balls into the boot,
headed north. We saw flames
above the trees. By nightfall
that road was blistered, nothing
but a scorched leaf-littered underpass,
a net for fiery embers and sparks.
Burning strips of eucalypt bark
leapt from one side of the black lake
to the other. We watch the news,
recognise place names, on digital maps,
not meant for tourists. We walked
those beaches where huge groups
gather, waiting for the ferocious fires
to burn themselves out, return again
to ash-dusted patches of land.
When life comes down to a headspace of air
beneath a jetty – the atmosphere toxic –
and above swirling tornadoes of fire,
the house burning down to the ground,
trees glowing scarlet in the haze, hissing,
spitting out sparks, and a fireball sun
beaming yellow, eucalypts exploding
under a Mercurian orange-streaked sky –
you cling to wood, cling to your grandchildren,
let the youngest lock fingers around your neck,
her blonde curls bobbing on the cold surface,
her eyes wide, lips a thin, pale line – wonder
where their mother is, if she’s praying, check
for five heads above water. Make your case.
Stephanie Conn is a poet and current PhD Researcher from Northern Ireland. Her first collection The Woman on the Other Side (Doire Press, 2016) was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award for Best First Collection. Her pamphlet Copeland’s Daughter (Smith/Doorstep, 2016) won the Poetry Business Poetry Competition. Her most recent collection Island was published by Doire Press in 2018. Stephanie is a multi-award winning poet, including the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing. She is the recipient of a range of Arts Council awards and has read her work locally, nationally and internationally. Find out more at https://stephanieconn.org/. Follow @StephanieConn2
8 POEMS: SENRYU, HAIKU, KYOKA, TANKA
How did she do it
Red Riding Hood, luring wolves
Was it expert marketing
or her flawless marksmanship?
Is this blazing earth
just angry - or signing
The heavens last night
Poured out their discontent heart
Flooding our basements
Showers in forecast
After us comes the deluge
Our prospectless toast
Too drunk to dream a future
Our off-key drinking song
While the ice cap thaws
I'll regret my lusting for
Gentler winter winds
Lonely ice flake floats
on lukewarm Arctic waters
- my eyes are melting
The edges of existence
now bend toward depression
tiny bug bites won't disprove
our insect collapse
I offer my scratchy arms
In pursuit of atonement
The city's humming
I listen for sounds of hope
through morning traffic
Hege Jakobsen Lepri is a Norwegian-Canadian translator and writer. She returned to writing in 2011 and had her first story published in English in J Journal in 2013. She has since been published widely in Canada and the US. Her most recent work is featured or forthcoming in The New Quarterly, Carve Literary Magazine, Hobart, Agnes and True, Journal of Compressed Arts, Gone Lawn, Belletrist, Crack the Spine, Prism International and elsewhere. You find her on her on twitter @hegelincanada, Instagram: @hege.a.j.lepri and on her website: www.hegeajlepri.ca
bottles plastic bags underwear gum wrappers
receipts caps toothbrushes lighters cups
end up in the sea’s vast net of light
waves heaving the weight of
our waste back and forth
back and forth
tumbling shards of beer bottles
into oblong pebbles of sea glass
weaving bloated plastic bags
into nooses for seagulls
breaking bottle caps
into bait for lantern fish
Our sparkling garbage dump
brims with cockles and crap.
our hands throw
the giver of life receives.
"Flotsam" was originally published in Firesmoke, Mawenzi House, 2014
Sheniz Janmohamed (MFA) is a firm believer in fostering community through collaboration, compassion and creativity. In her own practice, she strives to embody words through performance, land art and writing in the ghazal form. A poet, artist educator and land artist.
Sheniz has performed her work in venues across the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival, Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Aga Khan Museum. Her land art has been featured at the Aga Khan Park, the Indian Summer Festival and the Art Gallery of Mississauga.
Sheniz is also the author of two collections of poetry: Bleeding Light (Mawenzi House, 2010) and Firesmoke (Mawenzi House, 2014).
Sheniz visits dozens of schools and organisations each year to teach, perform, and inspire creativity in her students. In 2015, She was awarded the Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming Creative Teaching Scholarship, and holds a Artist Educator Mentor certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto).
Sheniz is also the founder of Questions for Ancestors, a blog that encourages BIPOC writers and artists across Turtle Island to ask questions of their ancestors as provide advice for their descendants.
Sheniz is currently working on her third collection of ghazals.
DISCOURSE OF THE LAST BLADE OF SENSITIVE SHY GRASS
Oceans recede and Henry Darger
was tracing all along.
Boys are carrying banners and I am
If my bedroom light is burning
electricity and the on-switch.
Your dryer is done,
That’s not a claxon.
Wind blows that way—alright,
wind blows other way—okay
We are the four
who discover Lascaux
we bring lichens and
mold to the dun horse and stag
we turn bison to talc,
choke the longest living duck.
When our mothers
see the clay
we part our arms,
like curtains at the opera
when they insist,
we grow antlers
cut them off and
let them have it:
the head of a stag,
branched as lightning,
is the new forest,
centerpiece of her dining room
supper to her feast.
Marta Balcewicz's poems and stories appear in Tin House Online, AGNI Online, The Malahat Review, and elsewhere. She is the fiction editor for Minola Review and lives in Toronto. Find her at www.martabalcewicz.com.
HOPE OF THE HUMMINGBIRD
For the past decade, severe wind storms have battered the little community I live in on the Pacific Coast.
Leg-thick tree limbs have busted roofs, littered lawns, flattened bushes, and felled old trees in our adjoining forest.
This spectre is climate change. Elsewhere, the world is burning. What can one person do?
Our solution is simple. During fall, we hang up a hummingbird feeder, seed feeders for larger birds, and a suet feeder for winter. We nourish the most vulnerable creatures of the forest, without discouraging their natural ability to forage.
The small, bright glow of hope of our hummingbird friends inspired this poetic honouring:
Shimmering red tweed on green
our tiny guest
wings beat time
its needle dips deep
into the slit of our offered feeder’s
yellow plastic petals
your forest retreat thinned
our serving a small buffer
against a grievous global surge
of natural tragedies
one shock-absorber stands firm
"A Vortex" previously published in print in Otoliths, issue fifty, part two, southern winter, 2018 and online at the-otolith.blogspot.com
"Hope of the Hummingbird" first published by Elephant Journal, September 25, 2019
Elaine Woo has long engaged in the discourse on environmental justice through her poetry and visual art. She would like to see many more join in and take action in ways, big or small, as able. She is the author of the collections Put Your Hand in Mine, 2019 and Cycling with the Dragon, 2014.
To Aliens (all)
we fucked up
the planet that is
not by choice
well not by my choice
and not by a lot of people I know
it was sort of an accumulative fucking up
so you probably shouldn’t come back here
or visit for the first time right now
you should probably just wait
until this part of humanity is gone
because while we have fucked it up currently
i don’t have much hope that we’ll be around that much longer
to continue fucking it up
and after that you can come visit again
the things that come after us will probably be hotter anyways
To plant life (all),
you show what you heal
in your very makeup
the cellular structure of what you are
giving us a map to all that means to be alive
seen in valerian root
shaped like a nervous system
used to calm our nerves
and send us to sleep
seen in strawberries
cut in half
the picture of a human heart
used to heal our hearts
seen in St. John’s wort
bright yellow flowers
calling forth joy
used to heal depression
you show us and
sadly, only some of us see
Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator originally from Calgary, AB but who currently resides in Vancouver, BC. She is a graduate of the UBC Creative Writing MFA program, and a recent winner of The Indigenous Voices Award in the 2019 Unpublished Prose Category and of The Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. Her fiction has appeared in Grain Magazine as the 2018 Short Prose Award winner, on The Malahat Review’s Far Horizon’s Prose shortlist, Joyland Magazine, The Puritan Magazine, and more. Her debut book of poetry is titled ON/Me (Caitlin Press). You can find out more about her at www.francinecunningham.ca.
Light slow as honey
in its antique shell, rubber stopper
lazy at the end, snarled curl
of the lip ring silver
round glass—yes glass, but thick,
the kind that keeps you guessing,
stretching feeble for the other side.
The way a frenzied starling
builds her nest in May,
one flimsy clutch of twigs
at a time. The light unclaimed
through my delay, seeping in
as if from nowhere, stilted,
clotted as in the white-shelled
tank I saw
one inverted summer day
in Melbourne, where a squid lay
slumped in a corner
like a pile of unwashed laundry,
her eye a steady accusation
before the rounded window
that glimpsed our own grey-glimmer world.
TRY TO HATCH FISH AND STONES*
know what to do
with your chalky misfortunes.
like mammoths, an old
relationship. Await the birth
of a patience, eternal,
yet to be mastered
in any hemisphere. Know what to do
with disappointment. If lucky,
lucky. In the long quest
for an everyday, don’t forget
to revise your expectations.
Protect the charge
that is your wanting. If queer,
what to do
with heartache. Hitch your wagon
to a laboratory. Keep that hope
within your belly,
under the perfect tuxedo flap
of skin, snug
beneath your lungs.
*“Berlin gay penguins adopt abandoned egg.” BBC News from Elsewhere, 12 August, 2019. Reporting by Martin Morgan.
Annick MacAskill is a queer and feminist poet and translator based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax) on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq. Her debut collection, No Meeting Without Body (Gaspereau Press, 2018), was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award. Her second collection, a book of love poetry, will be published by Gaspereau Press in the spring of 2020.
An anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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