Poetry that Fortifies Me
Round-Up of Writing that Fortifies
Here’s some climate poetry I’ve been reading lately. Some poems are specifically about climate change, and other poems are not really but help me feel, reflect, and cope with it all. These poems fortify me through 😶🌫️😔😷😶😕😟🙁☹️😮😳😦😧😨😰😢😭😱😣😞😓😩
O! Goddess Who Gets Us Through, grant the same fortitude I get from these words unto my readers, too. 🙏
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
— Edgar Albert Guest
When I learned I might have cancer,
I bought fifteen white lilies. Easter was gone:
the trumpets were wilted, plants crooked with roots
bound in pots. I dug them into the garden,
knowing they would not bloom for another year.
All summer, the stalks stood like ramshackle posts
while I waited for results. By autumn, the stalks
had flopped down. More biopsies, laser incisions,
the cancer in my tongue a sprawling mass. Outside,
the earth remained bare, rhizomes shrunken
below the frost line. Spring shoots appeared
in bright green skins, and lilies bloomed
in July, their waxed trumpets pure white,
dusting gold pollen to the ground.
tripled in number, they are popping up again. I wait,
a ceremony, for the lilies to open, for the serpentine length
of the garden to bloom in the shape of my tongue’s scar,
a white path with one end leading into brilliant air,
the other down the throat’s canyon, black
and unforgiving. I try to imagine
what could grow in such darkness. I am waiting
for the lilies to open.
— from Markings on Earth by Karenne Wood
To fly so far, so fast
And land so gently
Upon a panel on planet Earth
Eight and a third minutes old
And worth its weightlessness in gold
Fallen, faded and cooled
Then to be told,
‘Oi photon. Get your coat on.
You’ve been pulled.’
‘as late capitalism writhed in its internal decision concerning whether
to destroy Earth’s biosphere or change its rules’
– Kim Stanley Robinson
We’re sat by the ocean and this
could be a love poem; but that lullaby murderer
refuses each name I give it
and the icebergs seep into our sandwiches,
translated by carbon magic. And even this might be
to say too much. But the muse of poetry
has told me to be more clear – and don’t,
s/he said, for the love of God, please, screw things up.
Ambiguous, I didn’t reply; as we’re sat
by the ocean and I could make it
anything you wanted, for this moment
of speaking – but we have made it
something forever. Together
is a language we can barely understand;
but confessional experts detect
in the senseless diktat of hurricane
a hymning of our sins, our stupid counterpoint.
Love has served its purpose, now must be
transformed by an impersonal sequester
of me into the loves I will not see,
or touch, or in any way remember.
Perhaps it was always like this – take my hand,
horizon – ceding this land.
— by David Sergeant, from The Guardian’s Keep it in the ground: poem-a-day series
To train myself to find, in the midst of hell
what isn’t hell
The body, bald, cancerous, but still
beautiful enough to
imagine living the body
washing the body
replacing a loose front
porch step the body chewing
what it takes to keep a body
this scene has a tune
a language I can read
this scene has a door
I cannot close I stand
within its wedge
I stand within its shield
Why write love poetry in a burning world?
To train myself, in the midst of a burning world,
to offer poems of love to a burning world.
Katie Farris is such a brilliant writer and also a fantastic twitter follow @katiefar. This is the kind of poem you want to sing from the hills. The resolution of the last lines HIT. So hard, that I have a post-it with this quote up on my desk. I’m also really looking forward to her forthcoming chapbook STANDING IN THE FOREST OF BEING ALIVE, April 23rd.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
You should follow Maggie Smith on twitter @maggiesmithpoet she’s an incredible talent and generous voice. I’m looking forward to reading her latest poetry collection, Goldenrod soon.
“Good Bones” is one you’ve likely come across before and will again. As relevant as the Realty metaphor is to our modern day, on reread this always feels so timeless. I feel an infinite pool of a dreamer’s love poured into this poem, making it feel so outside of time and forever relevant.
The climate crisis is built on a facade of white supremacy perpetuating deep inequalities many more are recognizing can be torn down, back down to the bones that actually root us to one another, our environment, our future — relations of love — these are the good bones I chirp on about: so then, yes— “this place could be beautiful. we could make this place beautiful."