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.
LAWSON ROY’S PINION ON SYN-THETIC POLYMERS
Pity the bottom feeders! Lobster might look mighty
but their numbers’ll drop faster than lead cod jigs.
The clams n mussels lap up that nasty plastic crap
drifts cross bottom. Nothin lobster likes more
than a big feed of clams n mussels.
I don’t differ—’d rather clams than lobster
any day of the week. Was just up the Dairy Treat
laid into a fine mess all fried up with French fries.
Tasted the finest kind, if bites were a tad rubbery.
Looked out cross the lot, saw a feathered ruckus
floatin on the garbage barrel’s overflow
—stupid gull, plastic fork stuck bent in its beak
an onion ring ringin its neck.
I would’ve pulled that fork outta there
so ol greedy-guts crazy-head could enjoy its fried treat
but you think that damned bird would sit still?
* * *
A damn sin, the trash the tide heaps on the beach.
Out walkin, you come cross banged-up buoys or bits
mangled traps, trap tags n bands, cartons n tainers
pop cans n enough bottles for every last blasted soul
chunks of Sty-ro-foam, Zip-loc bags, what we call penny whistles.
Birthday balloons lookin like run-over jellyfish. In all colours!
Bait bags, shell casins, their rubber gloves. All colours!
When I was fishin Millie always made me my mitts.
Weren’t nothin syn-theticful—nothin but sheep’s wool.
They’d tighten from dunkin em in the salt ocean each trip.
Waterproofin. Some warm. With the finger in em for firin
the .22 on board in case we run up on any seals.
* * *
You ever seen that bit on the television? They’re out in the boat
and the young fella’s wonderin what to do with his chip bag
or gum wrapper or somethin or other, and the old fella
he says to just toss er overboard. But where does it go, Dad?
Away, son; away. Well, well now. Where the heck’s away to?
Some hazy Atlantic nowhere? That fog’s comin in fast though.
Can feel it fillin my chest, layin on a few extra oil-based coats.
Water molly-cules and an-ti-thetic syn-thetics fillin my cavities
sure as I’m breathin tumbled round, broke-down poly-sty-rene.
Nothin much you buy lasts anymore, credibly quick to break.
Then it’s broke it lasts and lasts and lasts and won’t ever rot!
Oh, you know people—don’t they love that ol beach glass.
Started makin necklaces outta the stuff, like it’s pearls!
That busted glass is a bunch of trash—way I see it, the start
of a terrible habit. Pieces can be pretty, sure—so! No need.
Pretty as a Coke can. Go get yourself wed with a lobster band.
Har-huh-hargh! They tell me it’s all the tobacco I smoked
but I know it’s this fake plastic fog the ocean’s pushin.
Dig up my lungs 50 years from now, you’ll find a pair
of bags fit for carryin your poisoned groceries home in.
Cory Lavender is a white privileged poet of Black Loyalist descent living in Nova Scotia, which is in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. His work has appeared in journals such as Riddle Fence, The New Quarterly, and The Dalhousie Review. His chapbook Lawson Roy’s Revelation came out with Gaspereau Press in 2018. A second chapbook, Ballad of Bernie “Bear” Roy, is forthcoming with knife | fork | book.
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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